Dwyane Wade Gets A Grip
The Miami guard talks about Court Grip, a product marketed to help improve court traction.
by Kyle Stack / @KyleStack
Dwyane Wade’s offensive game is all about change of direction. Cuts, stutter steps, step backs…all that, as well as perimeter defense, is made tougher to pull off if he’s playing on a dirty court that his shoes can’t grip. Wade now has a way to combat that potential problem with his newest endorsement.
At the Chelsea Piers Sports Complex in Manhattan yesterday, Wade introduced Court Group, an 8 oz. bottle ($14.99 SRP at Foot Locker and Eastbay.com) containing a formula that’s brushed onto a shoe, via a sponge applicator, for improved court traction. The product is made by Mission Athletecare, which bills itself as the first and only athlete-engineered company. Sports stars such as Serena Williams, Steve Nash, David Wright and Mia Hamm endorse Mission’s health care products, which range from lip balm to anti-fungal foot spray.
More than three years of research and development have brought Court Grip to the market. The inspiration for the product was a lack of proper ways for a basketball player to gain better grip on dirty courts. From spitting on their hands and wiping it on their shoes to wet towels to sticky mats, players were left without a viable option for improved court traction, according to Mission-conducted research. “We knew there was a void in the marketplace,” said Mark French, the inventor of Court Grip and president of Mission Basketball.
French discovered during the product’s research phase that race car tires contained certain additives that produced better grip on the road when pressure was applied to them. “What we figured out was if we can make that into an instant-dry formula with seven other active ingredients that make it last longer than anything else on the market, break down dust, all that, is what’s giving you that bite,” French said.
Court Grip is applied by pushing the sponge against the shoe sole to release that formula, which is driven by microscopic nanotechnology. It sounds ultra-tech-y, and it is. But Mission said the formula, which is in liquid form in the bottle but dries as soon as it’s applied, is supposed to last 10-15 minutes of game time. (That obviously depends on how long, in real time, that lasts.) Approved for play at the NBA, NCAA, high school, intramural and youth levels, Court Grip was approved in independent product testing by MGA Research Labs, which used the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration as standards for testing.
Mission also went to New York City-based PACE University for player surveys on the product. Of the 500 basketball players interviewed, 82 percent said that court traction was the number one issue impacting how they played the game. There were also more than 20 NBA and NCAA teams which used Court Grip during the 2010-11 season, as French and others at Mission determined its effectiveness and appropriate bottle design and colors. This writer noticed it at a Washington Wizards shootaround at Madison Square Garden on January 23, when players were using a straight bottle design, compared to the eventual ergonomic look that exists in the final version.
Wade, who along with Mission’s other athletes has an equity in the company, will remain the face of the product long-term. Foot Locker will sell Court Grip in all of its 1,142 U.S. stores with a dedicated merchandising unit stationed next to its basketball sneaker wall. Window displays and customized Dwyane Wade videos, along with Wade’s image on the merchandising unit, make it distinctly his product to endorse.
Wade spoke with SLAMonline about why he believes in Court Grip, what NBA floor always gave him trouble, his feelings about the NBA lockout and more.
SLAM: How often do you slip on the floor in practice and in games?
Dwyane Wade: [Smiles] Let’s see, how long have I been playing basketball? For a long time, ever since I’ve been playing the game. Even now, I play on the best courts in the world. You still go to different places and the courts are dirty. For whatever reason, if it’s because of a concert the night before or if it’s because of a halftime show or a pregame show…the floors are dirty. Even though we have some of the best sneakers, it cannot do anything for the dirty floors. People spit [on their hands], all those things to get extra grip. But those things work for a second. Then you got to do it all over again. So, I wanted to be apart of a product that lasts longer and is easier to use. It took a lot of work behind the scenes to do that but I think we came up with it.
DW: Well, the one that I had [Mission] come up to was my first game when I started wearing [Court Grip] in real games – I was doing it in practice for awhile – was the one in Milwaukee. Where I went to school. So, I always want to go back there and play well. Some days the court allows me, some days it don’t. So, I was able to apply it this one game and I, tell ya, I was moving like I haven’t moved before. And I was really pumped and excited about the product because I was like, yo, this is a place where I had a lot of problems. Mentally, it messes with you. [Court Grip] gave me the traction and the grip that I needed.
SLAM: Have you been injured from slipping on a court before Court Grip came along?
DW: I’m sure I have. No major…I mean, I’ve had major injuries but I’m not saying it was from slipping. But a lot of players…you can pull a lot of groins. You get a lot of groin pulls. You get a lot of pulled muscles from slipping because you’re trying to make a move and you don’t have it underneath you to be able to do it. So, you pull a lot of muscles that way.
SLAM: So, did you wear Court Grip in every game last season?
DW: No, when I needed it. We got a great court in Miami, so I didn’t really need it. When I’m on the road a lot is when I need it. For me, it was something to help develop for, like I was saying, kids, high school, these bad high school floors, AAU floors, these recs. All the recs aren’t like this. [Looks around] So, it was pretty much to help everyone that plays basketball and sports indoors.
SLAM: You mentioned the dirty floors during your games. I imagine at the start of the game, right after the media gets off the floor and right after halftime are the worst times for that.
DW: Yeah, after halftime is the worst. And think about before games, it’s real bad. All the pregame stuff you do; some people have fire. Even in Miami, fire, you do all kinds of stuff. Stuff just coming down on the floor and there’s nobody there to sweep the floor. And some places are very dirty. And you’re like, ‘I want to know how long they’ve been here.’ [Laughs] It’s just real bad.