After Dwyane Wade’s endorsement deals with Nike subsidiary Jordan Brand ended in 2012, the basketball star’s next strategy play was as calculated as his moves on the court.
“When I decided to sign with Li-Ning, a Chinese brand, I looked at the future — what could we possibly do, what we could possibly build internationally,” he shared with Footwear News on Thursday in Los Angeles at the Variety and Sports Illustrated Sports and Entertainment Summit.
“I’ve been four years in that and we could do a lot better,” Wade added. “I’m excited to see where the next three or four years will take us.”
Wade, who recently announced that he was joining the Chicago Bulls after 13 seasons with the Miami Heat, led a keynote conversation alongside his agent Lisa Joseph-Metelus, of CAA, on his branding and global presence that transcends sports, footwear, books, television and more.
Speaking to the crowd, Joseph-Metelus credited Wade’s tenacity for his success.
“When I met him, he had one deal with Converse — and it was a half-million dollars,” she said. “But as he quickly ascended and won his first championship, everything started rolling.”
Wade’s agent at CAA added that following a conversation outside an arena for one of his games, he declared his ambition. “He said, ‘I want more,’ ” she recalled. “He said he wants to do things outside his endorsement deals — out of the box things.”
Wade cited Magic Johnson as an influence in growing his influence off the court, and has met with him for advice.
The baller added that a “moment of injury opened my eyes” in 2007.
“There was a moment in my career that I realized that basketball can end at any moment,” he explained. “I got shoulder surgery, knee surgery, and I was laying in bed 23 hours out of 24 — 10 days straight, just thinking about my life and where I was at. ‘Have I done enough? Am I satisfied at 25?’ ”
Among the entertainment and sports industry tastemakers, Jamie Foxx – clad in a pair of Gucci sneakers – made an appearance during the day-long program to interview Wade.
Speaking to FN, Foxx recalled how he managed to satisfy his taste for nice kicks while on a budget.
“I wanted it all, but we didn’t have any money,” Foxx explained. “My grandmother got me some Converse, but they were way too big. Like, one shoe was smaller than the other.”
It was built wrong, he said, adding that it was an irregular pair from “the little basket in front of the grocery store.”
Foxx said that he needed to wear the sneakers for a game when he was in the seventh grade and came up with a solution to get a proper fit: “For those shoes, I had on, like, 90 pairs of socks.”