Li-Ning, Dwyane Wade’s ‘Way of Wade’ trying to make D’Angelo Russell a brand ambassador
Chinese brand Li-Ning and its subsidiary signature line “Way of Wade” have been pushing to close a lucrative deal with new Golden State Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell, hoping to make him an ambassador of the brand, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times.
Russell is one of the last few notable sneaker free agents, along with Houston Rockets veteran PJ Tucker. Both players have worn different shoes through the course of the preseason, modeling different shoes in order to get a feel of the product as well as a visual representation for brands in the running.
Dwyane Wade signed with Li-Ning shortly after leaving Jordan Brand following a quick stint with the Nike sister company. Wade started his career as a Converse athlete.
The Way of Wade line has gained huge popularity in China and is among many of Li-Ning with its own store in several cities. Upon taking the deal, Russell could become the active face of the brand, now that Wade retired last season after 16 years in the league.
The Warriors aren’t short of players on deals with international brands, as shooting guard Klay Thompson has been the longtime face of Anta, recently getting teammate Kevon Looney a deal with them after the latter took several of Thompson’s signature shoes for himself.
Brands like Peak, Anta, Li-Ning, and others have now become more prominent in the NBA market, as the exorbitant contract amounts, as well as the exposure in China, often result as too good an opportunity to pass up for those hoping to grow their brand globally.
It’s also interesting to note that this partnership may bloom in the midst of the controversy between China and the NBA, which is a sign tensions may be cooling.