Ebony Profiles Dwyane Wade's Growing Endorsement Portfolio, Li-Ning Experiment
NBA Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade is “busy building an impressive business empire of his own design, whether it’s inking a sneaker deal in China; endorsing products for various U.S. partners in the beverage, snack, jewelry, or apparel industries; promoting his book ... or just generally weighing the myriad other opportunities that continue to [propel] his brand to a whole new level,” according to Ron Stodghill of EBONY. The NBA, or “any professional sports league for that matter, doesn’t have a history of spawning winning Black business figures.” The roster of “lose-it-all jocks” includes boxing Hall of Famers Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, former NFL players Terrell Owens and Lawrence Taylor, and former NBA players Allen Iverson. But Wade is “working overtime to keep his name off that list.” Wade said, “Those are the guys we learn from. It’s scary. You know I played with Antoine Walker but didn’t see any signs of (anything wrong). Then two or three years later, (he) winds up bankrupt.” Wade’s business profile is “rolling its own kind of dice -- as evidenced by its namesake’s [gutsy] move recently to break from vaunted Nike -- and yes, Brand Jordan, to sign with Chinese footwear making Li-Ning.” Wade reportedly will earn $10M per year during the 10-year contract and "receive significant equity in the company.” Although Li-Ning “boasts huge popularity in China, you’d be hard pressed to find an American who ever heard of the brand.” Still, Wade’s bet is “that he can earn Li-Ning street cred on the urban U.S. blacktop while amassing some brant cachet in China.” Li-Ning Vice GM for Basketball & Brand Initiatives Dir Brian Cupps said, “For the NBA to go global, they have to win China, and for Li-Ning to go global, we have to win the United States. D. Wade has the celebrity and superstar power to help us do that” (EBONY.com, 3/12).