Parting ways with the biggest name in basketball isn't an easy decision to make and the rumors reported by ESPN are that Wade's decision was fueled in large part by Jordan not scheduling to release a signature shoe for him during the 2012-13 season.
If that rumor is true, Jordan completely dropped the ball. Not designing a signature for one of basketball's biggest stars is inexcusable, and it shows the disconnect large companies like Jordan and Converse have with the athletes they sponsor.
While Li Ning is one of the bigger sports footwear companies in China, they are starting to lose ground—as reported by Want China Times.
Signing Wade makes eons of sense for Li Ning. Not only do they get the highest-profile player they've ever had, they also get a player who has already created such a following that all Li Ning needs to do is put money and advertising into Wade to be profitable with him.
Making the decision to leave Jordan might seem somewhat foolish for Wade, but just like it makes sense to Li Ning, it's also a very tactical and intelligent move for Wade.
It's not only a smart business move for Wade, though, it's also a move that is going to help make him more of an international star than he already is.
The NBA is growing international appeal, and it's smart for players to take advantage of that. Signing an international shoe deal is a great way to do that, and it's also a way to help foreign companies create a brand and a name in USA.
Wade's new shoe deal clearly shows that there's a world outside of Nike, Reebok, Under Armour and Adidas. It's a shift in focus away from the United States and into the growing international sports community.
NBA fans should get used to their favorite players signing endorsement deals with companies outside of the USA. As the NBA grows it's international image, players are going to realize the value in international endorsements, and they are going to take advantage of them.
Wade's shoe deal also gives young players looking for enticing endorsement deals some direction. Instead of joining an established American brand like Nike, players will start to look toward the international market for endorsement.
International companies have the capital to invest in young players, and they have a wide-ranging market to endorse players to. The international scope of the NBA is only going to grow, and Wade's shoe deal is a sign of the international shift that is taking place in terms of endorsement opportunities for players.