In one massive maneuver, the Chinese footwear company Li-Ning has lured nine-year veteran and two-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade from Jordan Brand.
The deal is reportedly worth an annual base of $10 million for 10 years and he will reportedly receive “significant” equity in the company as well.
Wade’s decision could potentially alter the shoe dynamic for years to come. His athletic footwear and shoe apparel line WADE will be the core for Li-Ning, who attempts to become a global force in the industry. According to Li-Ning.com, apparel will debut in the United States in 2013.
In addition to equity in the company, Wade will be responsible, as Chief Brand Officer, for the creative direction of WADE products. He will also have input in global marketing strategies, potential endorsers for the brand and the representation of athletes, who will best represent the burgeoning company.
Li-Ning previously made an attempt to dent the United States market — a market in which Nike owns 95% of the business — when they signed Shaquille O’Neal and Baron Davis at the end of their careers. Evan Turner is also represented by Li-Ning but the two-year shooting guard isn’t nearly as recognizable as Wade.
Wade will wear special Li-Ning shoes during tomorrow’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers prior to the launch of his signature shoe. (The shoes will be auctioned in China following the game.) Li-Ning plans on releasing WADE kids footwear and apparel in the near future as well.
If Wade’s decision was any indication, he didn’t want to merely follow the crowd. By moving to Li-Ning, he will be at the forefront of the company rather than a well-compensated star. Having participated in the Beijing Olympics, Wade realized the potential for success in the Chinese market and, potentially, beyond.
“I first visited China in 2008, when I competed in the Beijing Olympics, and was deeply moved by the country’s genuine passion for basketball,” said Wade. “I have been blessed with an opportunity to make an impact on the game in the United States, and I look forward to now being active with the sport on a more global level. I am honored to join forces with LI-NING and grow the game, beginning in China, which is home to more basketball players – 200 million – than any other country in the world.”
Founded by Chinese gymnast Li-Ning, the company earned $1.4 billion of total business in 2011 though Nike earned more revenue in China alone. As such, there is still a ton of improvement that needs to be made for Li-Ning to compete with Nike but they are hoping that the addition of Wade will be the most important addition in their tenure.
And for those that are wondering, Wade’s first shoe will sell for approximately $130, significantly cheaper than his teammate, LeBron James.