Dwyane Wade grew up in Chicago idolizing Michael Jordan, and still remembers daydreaming about wearing the sneakers bearing his hometown hero’s name.
MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade grew up in Chicago idolizing Michael Jordan, and still remembers daydreaming about wearing the sneakers bearing his hometown hero’s name.
The Miami Heat star has come a long way.
Wade’s first signature shoe for Jordan Brand was released Thursday. In the planning stages for months, the "Fly Wade" is the lightest shoe in the Jordan line yet, and carries a retail price of $140.
"For my childhood and thinking about from where I came, thinking about the kids in the world that look at me the way that I looked at M.J., it’s a big day," Wade told The Associated Press. "It’s a big day for the Wade brand to really be solidified with the Jordan name. Can’t never take that away, so I’m excited."
The first two colorways of the sneaker were released in the U.S. on Thursday. They’ll be available in China on Saturday.
Wade was closely involved in all aspects of the design and construction of the sneaker, which he said is unlike any that he’s worn yet in his career. Many shoe companies, Jordan included, are making a push to make lighter products without sacrificing support or strength, and Wade said engineers were able to make that happen with the shoe that now carries his name.
"For any athlete, obviously performance comes first with the shoe," Wade said. "My style of play is aggressive — some say reckless, I say aggressive — so you need a shoe that is able to take that. And then after that you go into support."
Wade was picked by Jordan personally to wear the Air Jordan 2010 — commemorating the popular line’s 25th anniversary — last year, something Wade called humbling.
Wade made the switch from Converse to Jordan Brand in 2009. Both are owned by Nike.
So at least in one respect, Wade and LeBron James are still going head-to-head against one another. James unveiled his eighth signature shoe from Nike — the LeBron 8 PS — on April 16, the opening day of this NBA postseason.
Standing next to each other after practice Thursday, James and Wade — who combined to make $28.7 million on the court this season, and at least that much in endorsement deals — both struggled to keep a straight face when each other’s work as pitchmen became a conversation topic.
"I’ve got the No. 1 selling shoe in the market right now and I had the No. 1 jersey seller," said James, whose new Heat jersey topped the NBA sales charts this season. "So as far as endorsements and marketing right now, I think we’ve all skyrocketed."
Wade and James have discussed collaborating on endorsement deals in the past, even when James was with Cleveland. Both said Thursday that they would welcome the chance to do so as Heat teammates, with James noting it could happen "if it’s authentic to both myself and D-Wade, which we do have a lot in common."
Like James, Wade said he could see such a partnership happening.
"I don’t know how huge that could be," Wade said. "I would think it would be pretty big. Eventually, we will. Whatever’s right for both of us, of course."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
(AP Photo/Michael Perez)