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There haven’t been too many NBA stars who have created their own sneaker brands. Among them, Michael Jordan’s Jordan Brand has a high standing in basketball. But Miami Heat icon Dwyane Wade still decided to leave them in favor of his own creation, Way of Wade. He is currently in China promoting his latest venture, the Wade Basketball Academy. His strong connection to China is also because of Li-Ning. This year marks his 12-year partnership with the brand and during the CBA All-Star game, he unveiled his latest drop.

At the time it was a very questionable move according to some people. The 3x NBA champion left the Jordan brand to partner with Li-Ning in 2012. Yet throughout this partnership, it seems like Wade did make the right move. Now, Wade is promoting his 11th signature shoe with the brand, Way of Wade 11. In his latest Instagram story, he shared nicekicks‘ post, writing, “12 years ago I made a decision which was unthinkable…

 

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In 2012, Dwyane Wade had just won the NBA championship for the second with the Miami Heat. With Miami being the favorite to repeat next season as well, the possibility of winning the championship in Li-Nings didn’t sound too exciting at the time as it wasn’t a popular brand among basketball fans. But Wade did the unthinkable by signing up with the Chinese Sportswear company following the expiration of his Jordan brand contract.

According to Wade, his reasons were very simple. He wanted to create his legacy just like Michael Jordan did with Air Jordan. D-Wade wanted to create something cool since he had been associated with sneaker brands since his debut season. His signature shoe partnership started with Converse where he had 5 shoes. Then he switched to the Jordan Brand, where he had 3. With Li-Ning now it’s at 11. No one could have imagined how this deal would turn out considering Li-Ning’s condition back in 2012.

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Dwyane Wade put his faith in Li-Ning despite multiple hindrances

What was concerning was that Li-Ning was experiencing heavy losses then. Even in 2013, the stock price dropped by 15%. Also, the first drop of Way Of Wade happened with mixed reactions. Dwyane Wade’s first contract with the brand in 2012 was for 7 years. But it was only going to get better.

Later he signed a lifetime contract in 2018. He became the 3rd basketball player alongside his idol Michael Jordon and his former teammate LeBron James to sign lifetime apparel contracts. Recently, Nike and Kevin Durant also revealed they had agreed on a lifetime contract.

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Yes, at the time it, may have been a very odd move for Wade to take such a drastic step. Firstly he was getting more money compared to his previous contract with Nike. Secondly, he was made Chief Brand Officer of the Way of Wade brand which gave him more control. So in all, Wade has established his legacy very well through these strategic investments.

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Written by:

Pranav Kotai

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Pranav Kotai is a WWE reporter at EssentiallySports. With a master's in sports management and a lifelong passion for pro wrestling, Pranav has an eye for understanding WWE like no other. Pranav is an open encyclopedia of all storylines, with a well-rounded approach to his writing, especially for his favorites like up-and-coming legends Randy Orton, LA Knight, and Rhea Ripley.
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Edited by:

Pragya Vashisth