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Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 at 6:11 pm  |  19 responses

Q+A: Dwyane Wade

After officially becoming a member of the Li-Ning family, DWade gives SLAM an exclusive interview explaining his decision.

SLAM: This is your third shoe company in your career…

DW: We do things in threes, baby! (Laughs.)

SLAMIs this the one you feel most comfortable with?

DW: This is the one I feel most excited about. First of all, let me say this: Growing up you look at other players and you wear their sneakers and when you have an opportunity to put your own name on a sneaker…man, I can’t even explain it. I had the opportunity with Converse and the Wade 1 and I thought that was the coolest thing ever.

Then I moved on to Jordan Brand and that was like a dream come true. I grew up in Chicago and I always felt like I was a Jordan fan and I should be wearing Jordan. I had the opportunity to do it and be endorsed by Jordan. Once my time was up, I was able to find myself in a sense and figure out what I wanted to do.

With Li-Ning, I have more creative control, I have more of a partnership, I have more of a say in a sense. It’s a bigger opportunity for me. I’ve been excited for all my opportunities but this one right here is will be my last shoe brand and something I’m excited about.

SLAMYou’ve talked a lot about your upbringing and your past—could you have ever envisioned being a global icon and the face of a Chinese brand?

DW: No, and I think that’s why I got emotional in the back when I was sitting behind the curtains before I walked out to the stage. I know where I come from. If people have read my book, they know the hardship I grew up in and the things that I have dealt with. To be where I am today, leading a global brand…I don’t even have the words for it, I’m speechless. To think about where God has taken me and my family. I’m going to continue to do things that I’m comfortable and confident in doing. I’m going to continue to show athletes and young kids that you don’t have to follow the status quo and you can do what you’re comfortable with even if it’s not the popular choice or the cool choice at the time. But if your comfortable and you’re confident in the move and you really believe in it, you can change people’s perceptions and have them say, ‘Man, you know what? I like that and I want to be a part of that.’

SLAMPerformance-wise, what makes these sneakers different from your previous signature shoes?

DW: I think that the thing that we tried to do in this short period of time is try to get into what’s most important to me and my foot. First is comfort, as always. Then making sure I have the build of the shoe that I need to help me play at my best. Just really working with that.

I think a lot of people in the US have this idea in their mind that China’s branding is cheap, but I don’t think people understand that everything is made in the same factory. Everything is made right next to each other. It’s all the same in the sense that you have to put your stamp on it and make sure that it’s something comfortable and that’s what I was able to do.

SLAMWith Shane Battier signed to Peak, is there a rivalry between the two of you?

DW: No doubt! (Laughs.) It’s funny, man, during practice Shane went to the basket and I fouled him and everyone stopped and went, “Oh! It’s a war between the two brands!”

Honestly though, I think what Shane was able to do by signing with Peak was trailblazing in it’s own right. Looking at the young guys even on our roster, Terrell Harris is thinking about signing with Peak if he hasn’t already. Shane helped him understand the brand and that’s what I want to do. I want guys to really understand Li-Ning and want them to be a part of it. As Chief Brand Officer, I have my eye out for certain players that can represent my brand and hopefully I can take some of that Peak love and bring it over to Li-Ning.

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  • TBRK

    I’m actually really proud of DWade for this. CBO, not bad…a credible venture, and something to build upon. Just realized he’s about 5 years past being a poster boy, time to make BOSS moves

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Respectable move. Not everyone wants to be just another Nike athlete. He never stood out at Jordan. Now he has an opportunity to do that.

  • iNferno

    Hopefully some of these other companies like Under Armour and Li Ning continue to grow and challenge the stranglehold that Nike and Adidas have on the market. It will force innovation and make them cut down on the extraordinary amount of profit they make per shoe.

  • http://twitter.com/_DFrance DFrance

    While I do think, more competition the better, you can’t say Nike doesn’t innovate. They don’t just back on their name, Flywire, FlyKnit, Hyperfuse, Zoom air etc are all technologies other companies try to copy.

  • http://twitter.com/_DFrance DFrance

    I can understand him wanting to create his own path, but why are his shoes always so ugly? The Cons were ugly, the JBs were ugly and now these. Between him and Chalmers Spaldings, the Heat might just have the ugliest footwear of any starting backcourt in NBA history.

  • daBIZ

    No doubt, but they can afford to innovate — they’re the chip leader at the table. It’d definitely be nice to see some companies cut into their base. This is a good start but, obviously, Wade’s Li Ning’s need to be flier than this.

  • robb

    Those made me puke. Nobody will buy such garbage.

  • REM GOLDMAN

    it should have been a one question interview. Why did you change to Li-Ning ? D.W. : Because of the money. Don’t be fooled guys, it’s just about that, not legacy, own path or something else.

  • ENDS

    Did y’all know Dwade Is a father???

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ben Osborne

    Nice job, Peter.

  • Peter Walsh

    Thanks for making it happen!!

  • R32

    Basura

  • Juicy

    The most outstanding fact in this article is that Shane Battier went to the basket

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Exit D-Wade. Enter Russell Westbrook. Just saw that he is now with Jordan Brand. Wonder what they will do with him.

  • http://twitter.com/Jzakoni Verified Account

    i still dont think this move will get him anymore shine

  • SwaGG_SeaN

    I understand this is a business move and all but those kicks are loom kinda hideous

  • KBM

    If u dont believe it was solely for the money that Wade changed shoes, then u dont know much about humans on earth.

  • K_HOLIDAY

    I respect D-Wade for wanting to blaze his own trail. Why do these sneakers look like kicks puppets would wear?

  • SH

    Um, so what is Li-Ning’s shoe tech? I ask because I have no idea and I am generally of the opinion that performance basketball shoes sell on what they offer in technology, or failing that they must be stunning to look at (case in point; the Reebok Question had Hexalite but nobody is going to argue it’s place as one of the best looking basketball shoes of all time.)

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