Tag: Li Ning

China NBA

Dwyane Wade talks switch from Jordan brand to Li-Ning


Most players grow up dreaming of wearing Jordans, of being a guy Nike promotes around the globe.

Dwyane Wade had all that — and left it for Chinese shoe brand Li-Ning.

While word of the change got out a couple weeks ago Wade addressed the switch for the first time Tuesday — not so coincidentally while the Heat were in China for a couple of preseason games against the Clippers. Where Wade is expected to play (in at least one game) and wear Li-Nings. From Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.

”It was a great nine years, but for me, it was just time to move on,” Wade told the AP. ”I have certain goals that I want to reach and I felt that I had to leave to reach those. So I’m doing things a little differently. That’s how I am, in a sense. I’m not necessarily a status-quo type guy.”

Wade instantly becomes the face of the Li-Ning’s basketball efforts. He is the biggest name by far with the brand. While Shaquille O’Neal is an endorser that came later in his career. Also signed with the brand are Evan Turner of the Sixers and Hasheem Thabeet of the Thunder.

Wade will have his own line of apparel and the fashion-consious guy will have a lot of say on the look and design. Those things and his signature shoe are still in the design phase.

”I picked the best situation for me,” Wade said.

Li-Ning — named after and founded by the famed three-time gold medal winning Chinese gymnast, the guy who lit the cauldron at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. — is big in China, a company with more than 8,000 retail outlets. But they have had a tough time making inroads in the United States, where Nike and Jordan dominate the basketball shoe market (Nike accounts for more than 85 percent of basketball shoe sales).

Evan Turner gets shoe deal with Chinese shoe company Li Ning

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Thumbnail image for Eturner_summer.jpgWalk into Foot Locker to pick up some shoes and Li Ning isn’t there among the Nikes and Adidas. But the company is almost as big.

Li Ning is the biggest China-based shoe and athletic apparel company, a power player in a booming market. They had $1.2 billion in sales last year, which is no Nike but is bigger than known American brands such as Under Armour. Li Ning wants to get into the competitive American market.

To that end they have celebrity endorsers, like Shaquille O’Neal and Baron Davis. Both big names, but also both guys closer to the end of their careers than the start, not guys who move a lot of product.

Evan Turner could change that.

Turner, the No. 2 overall pick of the Philadelphia 76ers, has signed a deal with Li Ning, according to CNBC’s sports business reporter Darren Rovell. This is the first time the company has signed a young player on the rise.

Turner will wear Li-Ning for his rookie season and will immediately appear in the company’s marketing. He will have his own signature shoe and apparel, which will be available globally, in his second year with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Li-Ning established a base for its US business in Portland, Ore., where it also has its flagship store. In order for the deal to really work out, Turner obviously has to be a star and the Li-Ning brand has to gain traction with consumers and retailers.

What makes this even more intriguing is that Turner’s agent is David Falk, who of course is responsible for establishing the greatest marketing deal of all time, Michael Jordan, Nike and the Air Jordan franchise.

It’s a bit of a risk by both sides. But if Turner takes off, Li Ning gets a boost and everybody wins. Well, except Nike, but they have won plenty.