Sunday 23rd June 2024,
The Hoop Doctors

Why Dwayne Wade Signing To Li-Ning Is Significant

Evan Turner takes to Twitter confirming Dwayne Wade’s endorsement with Li-Ning

If you haven’t already heard, the word is that Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade did not renew his sneaker contract with Jordan Brand and has signed a new deal with China-based sportswear company Li-Ning. This is significant for multiple reasons.

Already a conversation topic for the last few weeks, this is a story that proved to be more noteworthy to people than I originally foresaw. This move was in the rumor stage for months which prompted a huge amount of media attention. With rumors of other All-Star players leaving their endorsement deal with Nike Inc., such as Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook, I couldn’t help but wonder what is going on over in Portland with the Swoosh. Are players not happy with the money? Are the NBA talent not happy with their current sneakers?

What led me to believe that this is more than just a rumor was news that while premiere Jordan Brand athletes like Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony were gearing up to launch their latest Jumpman signature Dwayne wasn’t. If D-Wade has really jumped over the Jumpman to Li-Ning, it is possible that other athletes might have a different footwear alliance at the start of the season than seen during their team’s Media Day since as recent as two days ago there were pictures of Wade wearing the Jordan Fly Wade 2.

Li-Ning has definitely struck marketing gold with this endorsement of Dwayne Wade which is no wonder the company is running a contest giving away 12 pairs of the Li-Ning Conquer in an exclusive colorway that featured a gold foil upper and red accents; which the latter feature is rumored to actually being a nod to the signing of the All-Star guard. During this past All-Star Weekend, I was asked to take part in the Li-Ning All-Star Media Run which was an event that pit various members of the basketball and sneaker media against each other in a regulation-length basketball game hosted by Evan Turner where we got to test out his latest signature sneaker the Li-Ning Turningpoint.

My interview with Evan Turner before the Li-Ning All-Star Media Run

For a lot of people this is the first time they are even hearing about Li-Ning as a brand but that is understandable. You can’t blame yourself for never have hearing of a sneaker brand that has never been steadily sold in malls in this country. It is true that the BD Doom was, for a short period of time, for sale at Champs Sports location but that lasted about as long as the Under Armour Bloodline was in stores and that wasn’t very long either. The first and only US flagship store in Portland was open in two years ago but has since then dissolved into nothing. This Year of the Dragon has been a time of big changes for the company after CEO Zhang Zhiyong stepping down and with Digital Li-Ning’s VP of Marketing, Sales, and Merchandising no longer with the company. Despite not having the instantly recognizable name here, in China there was a point in time where there was over 4200 dedicated Li-Ning locations.


Li-Ning BD Doom display

With the star power of D Wade now under the Li-Ning umbrella it is only a matter of time before his signature line with the company drops and if it proves to be a success this could finally bring Li-Ning to the spotlight they have been after in this country for the last few years. With one of the reigning NBA Champion team members on their roster along with the 2010 #2 NBA pick who predicted the 76ers deep playoff run himself, Li-Ning finally has the attention of the US audience so now we just have to see what they do with it.

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