Decade’s Worst: Sneaker
Wade’s last signature shoe from Converse lacks any star power.
by Ray Bala
In the last decade we have seen a great number of exciting and electric players light up our TV and computer screens on the nightly. Names such as LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Andre Iguadala and Dwight Howard are but a few names on that list. And as a fan of the game of basketball you would expect that these permanent residents of the highlight reel would have some of the best kicks out, right? Well, that’s not always the case. This past decade yielded a fair share of forgettable kicks, but none more so than the Converse Wade IV.
Now I know you must be saying to yourself, “There are a whole mess of ugly shoes out there outside of the Wade.” And you know what, you’re right. You only need to look at Shaq’s sneaker chronology (I love you Shaq, but have you really laced up a pair of hotness since Reebok?) or the Dada’s with spinners (can it get more minstrel than that?) to see it. But the Wade IV is specially chosen and I’ll break it down for you like this.
If you will, think back to 2003. That summer Converse was looking to make a comeback in the performance basketball shoe market and decided to sign five untested but talented NBA draftees. Among them was Dwyane Wade. This was a coup for Converse since he went on to have a spectacular season where he was named to the All Rookie Team and helped to lead the Miami Heat to the Playoffs while becoming a fixture on the Plays of the Day on almost every sports station around the basketball world. As his star got brighter, Wade was all that a company could ask for in a sponsored athlete and he was poised to take the Converse to new levels of success not seen since the hay days of Magic-Bird rivalry.
So how do you have one of the most electrifying basketball players on the planet as the face of your shoe company and decide to design what looks like sub par product?
When it comes to the Flash’s line, it’s as if Converse was devolving when it came to shoe design for Wade’s signature kicks from his rookie season.
Think of this: When we think of a signature shoe, we not only want to be able to see the player in the shoe playing but also see the essence of the player in the shoe. We want to identify the player and the shoe as almost the same thing, like a marriage almost – one never too far from the other. Think of the LeBrons. Can you really see anyone else wearing them? How about all the shoes that Jordan wore during his playing days? Anyone can wear the shoes but when we start thinking that it seems odd when someone else is playing in them, then that player has created that aura and that connection to the shoe. With that thought in mind, I can’t see Wade as visible in this model at all.
The Wade IV has no electricity. There is no “oohh” factor. Unlike Wade’s drives to the lane to flush a dirty cram on an unsuspecting Anderson Varejao, there is no excitement in it. There is nothing to reflect the awe inspiring game, the personality for that matter, of the player that is was made for.
Let’s break down the shoe:
Taking it as it is at first glance, the Wade IV is not a particularly aesthetically appealing shoe, especially in the primary white colorways. The guys at Converse may have been looking for simple in the design but the upper looks like it could have used more thought. Wade’s game is smooth and effortless. Everything seems to flow so nicely and seamlessly as if he had choreographed the outcomes. This shoe has jerky transitions in the design elements and doesn’t flow well from front to back and up or down for the eyes.
The exposed mesh through a good portion of the upper is too visible, especially in the white colorway, and though it serves a functional and aesthetic purpose, it cheapens the look of the overall shoe and could be easily mistaken for a model by the “Impossible is nothing” guys. On top of that, Converse’s iconic circled star logo seems to be a misplaced in the center of the outside of the shoe. Does Wade reveal himself to his opponents? Could he be mistaken for anyone else? A resounding “no” to both questions.
I know that there will be a lot of discussion on this topic and a lot of “What about this shoe …” type thing and really there is no real comparison. Now are there shoes out there that look a lot worse aesthetically? Of course there are. Are there kicks out there that worthy of this title for this particular decade? Quite possibly. I could rattle off a whole list of models just from my memory (think anything Oakley that “Take Charge” Battier wore for instance) but I’ll bet you that none of them are tied to the same type of player that Dwyane Wade is.
Wade is a player that transcends the game of basketball. He plays with reckless abandon and fierce determination on the court but does so with a disarming smile. He is a class person on the floor, in the locker room and outside the arena. He plays seemingly with the aura of innocence of a kid playing in his driveway. With Wade, he is what’s good and wholesome and pure about the game we all love, and what we think is good in all people. His shoe should reflect him. So really, are you going to associate the Wade IV with him after all that? I think not, homie.
So is the Wade IV, the worst sneaker of the last decade? Ya damn skippy!
For more Decade Awards, check out the archive.