NBA All-Star Diaries (2010s): Dwyane Wade Details His First Five Months with Li-Ning

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It has now been five months since Dwyane Wade made the announcement he was moving to Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning. Since then, we’ve seen a multitude of Way of Wade colorways (Wade said he’s worn 28 different colorways on court), his first signing as Li-Ning’s chief brand officer, and a player exclusive that has taken on a life of its own.

In the 2010s installment of our All-Star Diaries series, Dwyane Wade details everything that has happened between him and the brand in the past five months. He also discusses what he has in store for this upcoming NBA All-Star Weekend.

Nice Kicks: It has been five months now since you made the announcement and move to Li-Ning. What has changed, for better or for worse, in those five months?

Dwyane Wade: Well, I obviously signed with those guys this summer, and I didn’t have a lot of time to understand how their brand works because of contract situations. We’re just now getting to a comfortable stage. It’ll take a little more time for us to really know each other and get our team in order, but I think we’re definitely getting there. I’m exited about the future. Early on, it was a struggle because we had such a short period of time to get things together. We only had a couple of months, and they did an unbelievable job of creating my product that I’m wearing now in a 2-month span – that’s really unheard of. So, that just shows you Li-Ning’s commitment.

Nice Kicks: Well, I know one thing that has changed. You went from storing your “Dynasty” Way of Wades in the microwave to posing in McLarens with low-top Way of Wades…

Dwyane Wade: [Laughs] Yeah, I’m just trying different things. When we first started off, I wanted a special mid-cut height, but I told them that as we go on, I may want to change some things, including the height of my shoe. I’ve never worn low-top shoes on court, but I’m not saying that I never will. So, right now, it’s just about trying different things out and doing things that I wasn’t able to do in the past. Like I said, I’m going to enjoy it and have fun with it.

Nice Kicks: Speaking of having fun with it, it’s obvious that you guys are doing any and everything with your Way of Wade. Do you realize that you have worn more colorways of your signature shoe than any other signature basketball athlete right now?

Dwyane Wade: It’s so fun because I can be inspired by something I see in my hotel room, or I can be inspired by the conversation we’re having right now. I talk to my designers 5-6 days a week just to throw out ideas. We always come up with some good stuff. For example, I might be on a road trip to Chicago, so I might do a Chicago-colored shoe, or I might be going to Portland for the day, and that’s the hub for shoe companies, so I might be inspired to do a color with that in mind. It might be a message I send my designer one night while I’m sitting in the locker room before the game about the shoe, and then I check my email after the game and there’s drawings or colorups of what we just talked about before the game. We work extremely hard over here.?I had a meeting with them the other night, and I realized that before I switch to my playoff version, I will have worn 28 different colorways of the Way of Wade. I have never worn that many different colors of a shoe.

Nice Kicks: So, is that how the term ‘Team No Sleep’ came about?

Dwyane Wade: Well, ‘Team No Sleep’ is me paying homage to my team that works so hard in helping with my family, building my brand and things like that. They do the things that I’m not able to do every single day because I’m focused on basketball. I appreciate them so much. My cousins in Chicago have a line of shirts, so when we won the Finals this past season, I asked them to make me some “Team No Sleep” shirts to wear after the Finals. They made the shirts, and they arrived before the Finals, but I wanted to save them until after the season ended. Once we won, I was in the “Team No Sleep” shirt all night. The term kind of grew on its own. It went from that to us making a “Team No Sleep” shoe. That shoe was supposed to be exclusive to my family, but when I saw the finished product, I thought to myself, ‘Yo, we need to get this out somehow, someway.’ The shoe is different from anything else I’ve worn. My family just got my shoes for the first time the day before yesterday. They got a pair of the “Team No Sleep” player exclusives. We’ve been very methodical in our process of making sure it’s right before any pairs are given out. So, for the longest, all of my friends have been hitting me up about these – even my mom has asked me about getting a pair.

Nice Kicks: In addition to colorways, I’ve also seen your sneakers feature an abundance of materials, such as patent leather and tumbled leather. Is there one that you take a liking to more than the others?

Dwyane Wade: It’s funny because it’s different at different times. At the beginning of the year, tumbled leather was my stuff! I told the guys that I didn’t want anything else – only tumbled leather. As the season went on, I tried nubuck and patent leather. The “Team No Sleep” shoes is a reflective 3M shoe. It was a different material than what I’m used to, but I liked it. I’m going to continue to try some new makeups.

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