D'Angelo Russell went from being the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA draft to an All-Star last season as a member of the Swoosh family. Starting today, though, he will be following the Way of Wade.
D-Lo — who has been spotted in Puma gear this offseason after his sneaker contract with Nike expired — announced on social media that he has joined Li-Ning as one of its brand ambassadors, alongside retired NBA great Dwyane Wade and CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Wade also confirmed that he has signed the Golden State Warriors star as his first signature athlete, which means that the latter will be lacing up the latest model in his personal shoe line, the Way of Wade 7, for the rest of the basketball calendar. For the three-time champion, Russell is the "perfect player and person to continue the work that I started."
"Seven years ago, I decided to do the unpopular thing — leave the shoe company I was with to sign with Li-Ning. I wanted to show the next generation of young people, especially athletes, that it's not just one way of doing things," he wrote. "I had a chance to build my own brand inside of Li-Ning called Way of Wade, and to have a Global platform that gives future athletes a canvas to create and be expressive. Our motto from day one has been: Make Your Own Way."
Even as sneaker king PJ Tucker is about to renew his deal with Nike, the league's shoe brand race is wide open.
Puma and Converse are making a comeback on the hardwood, and have tapped the likes of Kyle Kuzma and Kelly Oubre, respectively. Despite the league's tumultuous relationship with China, minor labels like Li-Ning and Anta (Klay Thompson, Gordon Hayward) continue to bolster their player base.
Is a D-Lo signature shoe on the horizon?