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Ford Tough: Ironman
Triathlon Hitches Title Sponsor
Heat G Dwyane Wade’s jersey was the No. 1 seller last week in the NBA, according to data from Florida-based SportsScan Info cited by Scott Soshnick of BLOOMBERG NEWS. During the regular season, Wade’s jersey was ninth, while Heat C Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey ranked first. SportsScan Marketing Dir Neil Schwartz noted that Wade has “three different styles [of jerseys] in the top 10.” Schwartz: “It looks as though there’s a new star on the horizon for the NBA.” He added that Wade’s “surge also has catapulted the Heat to the No. 1 spot among team sales the past two weeks.” For most of the season, the Heat had been the eighth- or ninth-best seller in the league. O’Neal has three jerseys in the top 25 (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 5/18).
SHOE IN: ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell noted that while Nike guaranteed a combined $108M to Cavaliers F LeBron James ($90M) and Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony ($18M), the best offers made to Wade, the fifth-overall pick in the ’03 NBA draft, “topped out at $400,000.” Converse Sports Marketing Dir Ric Wilson, whose company has a deal with Wade, said, “LeBron was a property before coming into the Nike deal because of the exposure he got in high school. Dwyane simply flew under the radar.” Wade’s agent Henry Thomas added, “No one in the shoe business thought that he would become what he has become.” Rovell reported the suggested retail price for Wade’s signature shoe, due out this fall, will be $90. Converse already makes a Wade lifestyle shoe called the Wade County, which sells for $65 (ESPN.com, 5/16).
WISH GRANTED: USA TODAY’s Ian O’Connor wrote Wade “is the gift” NBA Commissioner David Stern has been “hoping for, a high-flying action hero who keeps himself grounded for the sake of his teammates and his league. This is the guard who can blow past the Kobe Bryants, the T-Macs, the Vince Carters, the Grant Hills and the rest of the perimeter powers who entered the NBA as possible heirs to the throne.” Wade’s high school coach, Jack Fitzgerald, said, “The question people keep asking is whether he can handle the celebrity. I think he can. Dwyane’s got the image you look for, and he’s worked hard on that” (USA TODAY, 5/17). For more on Wade.
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In Newark, Dan Graziano writes Yankees LF Hideki Matsui and Mets 2B Kaz Matsui “will be treated as part of the larger show, not as a show unto themselves” by Japanese media this weekend when the Yankees play the Mets at Shea Stadium. Gaku Tashiro, a reporter for Japanese daily Sankei Sports said, “Matsui vs. Matsui is not as big a story to Japanese fans anymore. One reason is that Kaz is struggling so much and Japanese fans are disappointed in him.” Graziano notes many of the reporters who covered Kaz Matsui last year have switched to covering the White Sox and 2B Tadahito Iguchi. Other Japanese MLB story lines this season are D’Rays P Hideo Nomo approaching his 200th career victory (U.S. and Japan combined), Hideki Matsui’s early-season slump and Mariners RF Ichiro Suzuki following his single-season hit record set last season (STAR-LEDGER, 5/19).
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In Footsteps Of Women’s Tennis
HIGH SCHOOL HIGH: Ft. Lauderdale, Sarah Talalay reports Florida-based ML Apparel has launched “HighSchoolDayz,” a line of “throwback high school jerseys” for NBA, NFL and MLB players, starting with Heat F Udonis Haslem’s Miami High jersey, available for $80. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Udonis Haslem Children’s Foundation (Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 5/19).