It never felt right seeing Dwyane Wade in a Bulls or Cavaliers jersey. To a generation of NBA fans Wade is synonymous with the Miami Heat; the state even named a county after him… Last week brought good news to South Florida because Wade was traded back to the Heat for a 2nd round pick. Things feel right watching him play for the Heat again this weekend. With his return, it’s only fitting to take a look back at his kicks from his glory days in South Beach.
The franchise instantly became relevant after drafting him in 2003 and he single handedly lead an upset against Barron Davis’s Hornets in the playoffs. Many thought Wade’s importance was more than that of a young LeBron James because of his early post season success. In retrospect, the start of Dwayne’s career looks a lot like Kobe Bryant’s but with more expected of him. D-Wade’s obvious marketability lead to him signing with Converse. He would receive a signature model after a few years in the Converse Icon Warrior and Baseliner. The Wade 1 couldn’t have arrived at a better time; the Heat had signed Shaq and they were firing on all cylinders. Wade quickly established himself as a star which translated into sales for Converse. He won NBA Finals MVP, the signature shoe was popular and it offered something other than Nike, Adidas or Reebok. The Wade 1’s commercial (featured below) would become an instant classic.
Future installments of the Wade line didn’t do so hot. After a lukewarm redesign oddly named the Wade 1.3 Converse would release two more signature models under the Wade banner before leaving the brand in 2009.
The 2010 NBA season would be big for Dwyane for for a couple of reasons. He was officially an MVP caliber player, his best friend LeBron James would “take his talents to South Beach” and he signed with Jordan Brand. At the time, it was huge news. Wade appeared with MJ side by side to unveil the Air Jordan 2010 and it felt like he would be an integral part of Jordan’s future. Gorgeous Heat colored retro PE’s (that don’t pop up often) would be on Wade’s feet along with the Jordan 2010 & 2011 (which is way too under appreciated) as The Big 3 dominated the NBA.
Above we said that it felt like Wade would be a big part of Jordan’s future… but it didn’t go as planned. The Fly Wade wasn’t the best looking shoe. Aesthetically, it didn’t look good and featured no notable tech other than a small Visible Air heel unit. The shoe was marketed well and had some nice colorways but simply put- it didn’t even stack up against the likes of Jordan Brand’s Fly 23 and Melo M8. Similar results followed for the Fly Wade 2, and in fall 2012 Wade would leave Jordan for Chinese Brand Li-Ning.
The move to Li-Ning was surprising. It was hard to imagine why someone would leave Jordan Brand for such a smaller brand but Wade was given the opportunity to market himself more effectively overseas (along with 12 million annually according to reports). The Way Of Wade line has looked great from the jump and features more than capable cushioning and fit. The real draw of the line comes from the colors and patters Li-Ning has used. It’s only fitting Wade’s shoe’s get as wild as his wardrobe. Unfortunately, the shoes aren’t readily accessible all the time in the US and they haven’t been the game changer Li-Ning had hoped. Some highlights from the line include the: WOW 2 Birthday, WOW 2 Low Diablo, WOW 4 & 5 All-Star.
When it’s all said and done Dwyane Wade’s career is going to be a million times more memorable than his footwear and that’s all that matters. He’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer and remembered as a top-5 NBA shooting guard. It’s unfortunate that his shoes didn’t quite live up to the hype but not every athlete can create a transcendent shoe line like Jordan or Iverson. Checkout the slideshow for some Dwyane Wade’s best. What Wade era was your favorite? Which pairs do you own? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Converse Wade 1
Converse Wade 2
Air Jordan 2010
Air Jordan 2011
Jordan Fly Wade
Jordan Fly Wade 2
Li-Ning Way Of Wade 2 Birthday
Li-Ning W.O.W 2 Low Diablo
Li-Ning W.O.W 4 All-Star
Li-Ning W.O.W 5 All-Star