Dwyane Wade likes to take business risks and now he’s getting into NFTs

Former Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade addresses the crowd during his jersey retirement ceremony at American Airlines Arena on February 22, 2020 in Miami, Florida.

Michael Reaves | Getty Images

Dwyane Wade likes to take risks when it comes to business.

The retired three-time NBA champion has investments in media companies and consumer goods. Wade, 40, has acquired equity interests in two sports teams and hosts a TV show. Wade is also taking a chance with the volatile NFT marketplace.

“I’ve always taken risks,” Wade said in an interview with CNBC. “I’ve always been a guy who did things a little differently than everyone else.”

Wade is working with Budweiser Zero on an NFT collection that will go on sale May 24th. Wade co-founded the non-alcoholic, sugar-free beverage in 2020. The NFTs will retail for $180 each and offer buyers a chance to win prizes including autographs on Wade sneakers and a chance to play a Utah jazz game with him to see. Wade is a minority owner in the NBA franchise.

“This is an opportunity to be part of a young brand trying to build a following and provide great experiences,” he said, calling the NFT collection another option for fans “to do something unique and cool.”

However, the NFT collection will be launched during a downturn for digital assets. According to the Wall Street Journal, daily sales of NFTs are down more than 90% since September 2021. It also comes amid a sell-off around cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin.

But Wade doesn’t mind taking a risk on the pitch.

“If you look at my basketball career, my career in business has been very similar,” he said.

Wade’s key business decision

Wade, who retired from basketball in 2019, has made nearly $200 million during his 16-year NBA career, according to Spotrac, a website that tracks sports contacts. Forbes estimates he earns $17 million annually in endorsements.

“It’s different,” Wade said when asked about retirement. Wade said he found how to apply “the same things that made me a special athlete” to his post-career during the pandemic.

With a crucial business move in the prime of his career, he set the tone for his post-retirement years.

As a rookie, Wade signed with sneaker brand Converse in 2003. Then he made a big move to Nike’s Michael Jordan brand in 2009, pairing him with NBA stars Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, among others.

Then, in 2012, China-based sportswear company Li-Ning approached Wade to start its own line of shoes. They offered him a stake. Wade, who described the offer as his “most important deal from a business standpoint,” jumped at the chance and left the Jordan brand for Li-Ning.

“Thanks for creating the blueprint,” Wade said to Jordan. “I’ll try to make my own version of it.”

Jordan, in turn, told Wade that he “understood and respected” the move, according to Wade.

Finally, in 2018, Wade signed Li-Ning to a lifetime contract for an undisclosed amount. Younger NBA stars like New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum and Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler have joined him at the brand. Minnesota Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell also signed with the sneaker line.

“It’s a slow build,” Wade said. “Athletes take risks and do something different.”

He added, “I’m not trying to recreate anything,” Wade explained. “I’m trying to have a sneaker and apparel store that players have been wearing for many years. I want to build something that will be a legacy for my family.”

Dwayne Wade

Issac Baldizon | NBAE | Getty Images

Building on the momentum

Wade continued to push into new business areas after his retirement.

Wade started a wine company called “Wade Cellars”. He has a stake in the media company Players TV. He and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, co-founded Proudly, a company that makes baby products. He said the start-up was “born out of necessity”.

Wade said: “We have a 3-year-old daughter and we go to 80 different stores to buy products. We said, ‘This doesn’t work for us. How can we build what works for us – the minorities in our world and communities?'”

In April, Proudly released its line of products, including baby wash and lotion. The company will eventually offer diapers.

On the front of sports ownership, Wade also took a small stake in the NBA’s Utah Jazz in April 2021, joining Blackstone manager David Blitzer as co-owner of MLS club Real Salt Lake. Wade didn’t disclose the value of his stakes, but said it was a small percentage.

Wade said becoming the team’s majority owner is “the ultimate goal” for him. But his risk tolerance could be limited in this scenario.

“But maybe I’ll go through that process and say to myself, ‘No, you don’t want this headache,'” he said.

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/14/dwyane-wade-likes-to-take-business-risks-and-now-hes-getting-into-nfts.html Dwyane Wade likes to take business risks and now he’s getting into NFTs

Gary B. Graves

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