Dwayne Wade is looking to elevate the Li-Ning brand to new heights after pinning D’Angelo Russell as the newest ambassador of the Chinese athletic shoe and sporting goods company. Wade has been a long-time partner with Li-Ning and signed a lifetime contract in July of 2018.
The former Heat star announced that the endorsement deal was official on Thursday via his twitter account. The 2018-2019 all-star, Russell, was previously under contract with Nike. A deal that expired after last season. The Golden State guard has been sporting Li-Ning footwear since the preseason so many felt it was only a matter of time before the partnership became formal.
I’m excited to announce I’ve just signed my first signature athlete - D’Angelo Russell. @Dloading is the perfect player & person to continue the work that I started with @WayofWade. @Dloading...here’s to making your own way. Thank you for believing in us! pic.twitter.com/fPKx51sDDp— DWade (@DwyaneWade) November 21, 2019
Wade went on to say, “My decision 7 years ago to sign with Li-Ning was to show the next generation that it’s not just 1 way of doing things. I had a chance to build a Global platform that gives future athletes a canvas to create and be expressive. My decision 7 years ago was for moments like today.”
In 2009 Wade left the brand he wore in college at Marquette and during his first years in the NBA, Converse, to join the Nike-owned Jordan Brand. After a 3-year partnership the two parted ways. This cleared the path for him to join Li-Ning which before its involvement in basketball was best known for making gymnastics apparel in Asia.
Russell has been vocal in expressing how much Wade influenced his journey to the NBA. The former Ohio State blue chip said he grew up admiring the 2006 Finals MVP. He now joins CJ McCollum as the list of budding stars to take up the Li-Ning mantle grows. Russell will reportedly sport the Way of Wade 7 sneaker. Given the trajectory of Russell’s ascension and stardom it’s fair to assume he will eventually be crown with his own signature kick.
The brand fills a void left my Wade who retired at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 season but continues to be heavily involved with marketing the product. Wade can be seen above at ComplexCon with rapper Rick Ross promoting the shoes. Ross has a two-sneaker collection with the brand and is it’s first artist partnership. Further cultivating the Way of Wade line seems to be a priority for the 3-time NBA champion as he takes his first steps into retirement. He also recently agreed to a deal with WarnerMedia to appear as part of their basketball coverage.