Wade changes brand to build his own

Updated: July 17, 2009, 5:40 PM ET
Associated Press

NBA scoring champion Dwyane Wade is changing shoes, making the switch from Converse to Nike's Jordan Brand.

Nike announced Friday that the star Miami Heat guard will now represent the Jumpman label, joining Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Derek Jeter and others.

Wade I want to go global. It's something I feel like I have to do. I want to continue to build my brand.

-- Dwyane Wade

Wade had three years left on his deal with Converse, which made him the centerpiece of its attempt to reinvigorate a once-thriving basketball business. That relationship seemed rocky when the 2006 NBA Finals MVP wore his most recently released signature shoe, the "Wade 4," only once last season and favoring an older model instead.

But Wade said the partnership ends on good terms.

"When I came into the NBA, I didn't have a lot of exposure and Converse gave me an opportunity to head a brand and be the face of a brand," Wade told The Associated Press. "I'm really thankful for six long, good years. I've gotten five shoes out of the deal and my dream came true at the Converse brand, because they put my name on a pair of sneakers."

Still, the lure of the Jordan brand -- a 12-year-old division of Nike, which also owns Converse -- was too much for Wade to ignore.

Wade told The AP he inquired about switching allegiances from Converse to Jordan's brand before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, doing so in part about concern over Converse's long-term viability in the basketball marketplace.

The 2008 request was declined, but earlier this month, Wade said he was "almost positive" a switch would happen sometime before the season. Less than two weeks later, the deal was done.

"It did come sort of fast. It wasn't anything we planned," Wade said. "But it's a good thing. Now we can plan for the season."

Coming off a year where the Heat went from 15 to 43 wins and Wade won his first scoring title, Nike apparently agreed that the switch now made sense.

"I'm thrilled to have Dwyane Wade join the Team Jordan family," Michael Jordan said in a statement.

The deal was finalized Thursday. Terms were not released, although it's believed the new deal, at minimum, matches the remaining three years on the Converse contract.

It's a significant add to Wade's endorsement resume, which already includes deals with T-Mobile and Gatorade.

"I want to go global," said Wade, who is planning a business trip to China later this summer. "It's something I feel like I have to do. I want to continue to build my brand."

Wade made a cryptic reference to the move on his Twitter feed late Thursday night, saying he had "good news coming.....stay tuned." Dozens of people quickly starting pleading for more information, even Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick, who inquired via Twitter if that was Wade's way of saying he had agreed to a contract extension with the Heat.

"Not only did Andy Roddick hit me on Tweet, he hit me on my phone immediately, right after that," Wade said. "That's when I knew I sparked a little interest."

Wade offered another Tweet on Friday: "I'm finally home with brand Jordan," he wrote.

The move wasn't totally unexpected: As recently as last week, Wade was at a charity event with children in Miami wearing apparel featuring the Jumpman logo, prompting one of the kids he was meeting with to ask if he still was aligned with Converse.

Wade donned a blue pair of Converse sneakers at the Zo's Summer Groove game he co-hosted Sunday with Alonzo Mourning.

That'll likely be his last appearance in that brand. A "Wade 5" shoe was to be released by Converse in the coming weeks, although it now seems likely that orders from retailers for that model will be canceled.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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