Commentary

Wade ventures into 'athletecare' biz

Updated: January 31, 2011, 1:19 PM ET
By Jim Wilkie | ESPN.com

In choosing his latest product endorsement, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade is getting involved as stakeholder and customer.

Dwyane Wade
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesDwyane Wade needed to test out some products before he linked his name to them.

On Monday, Wade joined fellow star athletes, such as tennis player Serena Williams, Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash and New York Mets third baseman David Wright, on MISSION Skincare's roster of partners, who endorse the company's personal care products for athletes.

Josh Shaw, MISSION founder and president, said his company's "elite athlete partners" are given an equity position with an opportunity to invest more cash if they choose. Shaw would not disclose whether Wade, nor any other specific athlete, has opted for the latter, but he gushed at the Heat star's active interest and involvement with MISSION, including work on a top-secret product expected to be unveiled around late summer.

"I'm very excited about it," Wade said in a phone interview last week. "I can't wait for other people to really get a chance to use it."

MISSION's "Athletecare" products, which include sunscreens, moisturizers, lip balms, muscle rubs and anti-chafe creams, are available at Dick's Sporting Goods, Hibbett Sports, Lady Foot Locker and CVS/pharmacy.

"The thesis of the brand was let's create the first true athlete care brand in the country that genuinely focuses on delivering innovations for athletes," Shaw said.

Wade, who is in the first year of a six-year, $107.5 million contract, spoke with The Life last week about his new partnership with MISSION and some other personal interests.

Life: Tell us how you got involved with MISSION.

Wade: Well, I got involved with it by hearing about it from different athletes. You know, in this athlete industry we all talk a lot. I got an opportunity to know, first off, that Serena was involved in it, so it sparked my interest. When you hear that some of the greats of the sport are involved in something, you want to learn more about it, so once I heard Serena and Steve Nash and a couple other people were involved I wanted to learn more about it. And I got an opportunity to do that.

I started to see that it was made for athletes, kind of an athlete's main product … so it really sparked my interest more and we wanted to meet the brains, the people behind the operation. And once I met them, it was great. I felt that, right away. I kinda felt like this was a brand that you want to be a part of. And everything else, it's been going on from there.

The Life: When did you hear about it?

Wade: It was probably over a year ago. You know, you do your homework, and I talked to Serena, obviously. Here in Miami, I see her at different events; she comes to push some of our events. And there's a lot of things that she's very excited about. And once I got a chance to dig into the products that were being used, I knew what I liked about it. …

You're always looking for something that gives you an edge. Most of the products out here that have sport on it, they slap "sport" on it and it's supposed to work. But it doesn't. So I wanted to be a part of something i knew that athletes were a part of creating it.

[+] EnlargeUltra-Grip
MissionUltra-Grip gel is one of MISSION's best-selling items, says president Josh Shaw.

The Life: What products did you use first?

Wade: Probably the first thing I started to use was the muscle rub. Before games, you always put muscle rub on your body, so [I was] just trying to see how it penetrates your body, to see how you felt doing it.

After that I tried some of the other products that they had. I was like, "Let me try some of that." I tried a product that we have [Ultra-Grip] that you put on your hands, it's a gel product that dries your hands. As a basketball player, you're always wiping your hands off because they stay sweaty. so I tried that and I liked it. I liked how they kept my hands dry, so I just tried different products.

I can tell that they've been working with athletes because the products they have you only know this stuff if you talk to an athlete. You just don't know this stuff by being out there and doing different products. You've got to talk to an athlete. You've got to get in their brains to see what they need.

The Life: What can you tell me about the product Shaw described as "revolutionary" that is coming out later this year?

Wade: Not much at all. But what I can tell you is that I believe that product we're coming out with is gonna be awesome. I think that it's something we've been missing in sports, especially basketball, but more sports as well can benefit from it. I think that the guys have done a great job of really doing their homework and digging in to, like I said once again, the elite athlete and what is missing.

The Life: Have you been persuading other players to use products like the Ultra-Grip?

Wade: Oh, yeah. You need to know if it works; you need to make sure that this doesn't work because I am a part of this company. (Laughs.) It's easy for me to say, "I love it, I love it." Well, I am a partner in of the company, so it's easy to say. I need to make sure that this product works because it's not just about that; it's about making sure that we have created and developed something that cannot only help me but can help others across sports, for many different sports, and especially for young kids coming up. So, yeah, I wanna ask other guys around, my teammates and other guys, about this stuff because I wanna make sure that it's legit and it's not just something that we're putting out as a gimmick.

[+] EnlargeRick Ross
Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesIn a sign of mutual admiration with Dwyane Wade, rapper Rick Ross attended a Miami Heat game earlier this year.

The Life: If you can persuade [teammate] LeBron James to use Ultra-Grip, what would happen to his pregame chalk-tossing ritual?

Wade: (Laughs.) He wouldn't have to do all that stuff, right?

The Life: Shifting to your personal interests, what are your top five songs or music artists you're listening to now?

Wade: It's all over the place depending on, of course, the mood. Depending on what's hot, hot. … Jay-Z is always a top artist as far as being in my Rolodex, no question about it. Eminem has a new album that is unbelievable; he' a top one. Rick Ross is a top one; he's really putting out good music. And then you've got some R&B guys. I'm an R&B guy myself. I like to listen to music not just, you know, hardcore hip-hop, so you've got the younger guys like Trey Songz. And I'm always gonna listen to R. Kelly. I'm from Chicago and I'm always gonna listen to some old classic R. Kelly songs.

The Life: Sorry about your Bears, but you've got a little bit of a Wisconsin connection, so who's your pick for the Super Bowl?

Wade: Yeah, my Wisconsin connection goes no further than Marquette University. I am not a Green Bay Packers fan. I think that Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback. They have a great team, but I'm not going for the Packers. I'm going to say the Steelers are going to win it. I hope they do.

The Life: In the latest Rolling Stone, Lil Wayne was upset with LeBron and you for not talking to him after a game against the Hornets. Is everything smoothed over between you guys?

Wade: I haven't heard nothing about it. (Laughs.)

Jim Wilkie is the editor of The Life and can be reached at espnpucks@comcast.net.