The Way Of Wade, Li-Ning And Giving Other Sneaker Brands A Chance

dwyane wade way of wade li-ning

This past Sunday I decided to get started early on some spring cleaning in my house. You see, I've lived in my new place here in Oakland for about 6 months, and for those 6 months I've lived like a normal person in about 75% of my residence. See, I live in a 2-bedroom apartment, and I'd like to think it's pretty dope. My bedroom is set up, kitchen/dining area is cool, the bathroom is respectable and my living room is my sanctuary for NBA League Pass, PlayStation 3 (soon to be 4) sessions and Netflix movie nights with a lady friend that I can convince to join me. But that second bedroom of mine? Good God Almighty.

A train wreck of epic proportions. I realized though that the biggest reason my second bedroom looked like someone threw a Bouncing Betty into the room and blew everything to smithereens is the fact that I had an insane amount of shoes strewn everywhere. I did a rough catalog of how many sneakers I actually had by brand, and I was slightly taken aback by my tabulation:

  • Nike: 24
  • Adidas: 7
  • Converse: 6
  • Creative Recreation: 3
  • New Balance: 1
  • PF Flyers: 1
  • Puma: 1

A couple of takeaways from my cataloging. One, I own ZERO Jordan's that I wear in the rotation. (I have 5-6 pairs that served their purpose back in the day, but they're headed to Goodwill I think.) Two, I own ZERO Reeboks. I figured I'd have a pair of Classics on ice or something, but alas I don't. (Although I might have to go on ahead and pick some up.) Three, Nike/Converse makes up almost 75% of my sneaker collection. I'm not really sure how I feel about that. (Nike owns Converse, by the way.)

I bring all of that up to lead into a story of sorts that broke out in Miami (courtesy of the Palm Beach Post) about their favorite 2-time NBA Champion, Dwyane Wade, and a new nickname:

LeBron James was so amused by Dwyane Wade’s new self-proclaimed nickname that he dared Wade to reveal it to the media before doing so himself. “It’s ‘WOW,’ Way of Wade,” James said, referring to the slogan for Wade’s Li-Ning shoes. “I think it’s corny.” Wade, who discarded the “Flash” nickname two years ago, did not concur. Wow? “I’m taking it global!” he shouted.

The "Way of Wade/Li-Ning" promotion since Dwyane Wade left Jordan Brand has always felt forced and unnatural in my opinion. Where I thought there was a real opportunity to grow something organically, this "Way of Wade" is something that feels rushed, which is something that even Wade admitted in an interview recently. However, a part of me wants to give a brand that feels like an underdog a chance. I actually like a couple of Wade's Li-Ning releases, and given the right price point, I'd probably try and make an acquisition. Yet, I can remember in times past where I also thought I wanted to try a different brand of kicks and for whatever reason I wasn't able to pull the trigger. A couple of examples to share:

  • Vince Carter's Pumas: I remember being in the 9th grade and becoming enamored with Vinsanity. The dude was dunking on everybody with a T-Rex on his chest, and I thought he was officially next. I remember really wanting to get the Pumas he wore so I could hoop in them, so my mama and I went to the local sporting goods store to try and cop a pair. Now, what's important here is that my mama had never seen these shoes prior to my desire for her to acquire said shoes for me. So when we walk into the store and I showed her the kicks I wanted, she made the meanest scrunchy face of all-time. Moms did not approve of the Pumas, and I walked away with some Nike Uptempos instead. 
  • The And1 Era: For a minute there, I thought And1 had a chance to have some legitimate staying power. They had some guys on the roster that were actually worth a damn (Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Monta Ellis, Rafer Alston), one of the dopest commercials of all-time with KG and Jadakiss, and they had the power of the And1 Street Tour to push the brand to places that Nike, adidas and Reebok used to have strangleholds. I distinctly remember thinking about buying the And 1 Tai Chi's three or four times, but I never did. Maybe it was because I was at the age where I wanted casual sneakers and hoop shoes, and I just decided that the Tai Chi's didn't fit in either bucket.
  • K1X: I can't even explain why, but I wanted these a few years ago. Got damned you, Ron Artest.

These are just three examples, but I could've brought up brands like Starbury and Spalding, who were at lower price points but I'd never consider actually buying. Or I could bring up other current new brands like Under Armour (with players like Brandon Jennings and DeAndre Jordan on the roster), Peak (who just signed Tony Parker) and Le Coq Sportif (a historic brand, with Joakim Noah signed on) who have recognizable faces and halfway decent shoes, but I'm still unwilling to pull the trigger.

What would make me pull the trigger? I have no idea.

I'm a quasi-sneakerhead. I'm not the sneaker sensei John Gotty or the sneaker nomad known as Sneaker Dave, where the knowledge and passion to seek out (or have the FedEx man seek you out for) sneakers is unparalleled, but I know what I like and have acquired a decent amount of my favorite kicks in my closet. I have deep-rooted relationships with some of my sneakers (Huaraches are in multitudes in my closet), and others have grown on me later in life (Air Max 90's). Yet, I don't have that relationship with Dwyane Wade, and I don't have it with Li-Ning, so asking me to step out on faith and possibly drop $100 on some kicks is a difficult decision to make. I need a trial run or something ...

... can I download them off the internet illegally and rock 'em for a few months and get back to you guys? Nah? Well damn.

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