In reality, then, D-Wade's decision to ditch the Jordan Brand and, by extension, Nike, for a more lucrative shoe deal with Chinese footwear manufacturer Li-Ning fits his established frontiersmanship rather well. Leaving the Swoosh may have been difficult for Wade in principle, though likely less so once Nike opted not to match Li-Ning's offer.
At which point, the prospect of establishing a brand all his own in the world's most populous and basketball-crazed nation must've been mighty appealing to Wade.
To be sure, Wade's hardly the first big name baller to blaze a trail with Li-Ning. Baron Davis and Evan Turner are both members of the Li-Ning family. Shaquille O'Neal, Wade's old teammate with the Heat, endorsed the company from 2006 to 2010, albeit during the latter stages of his career, when he was no longer commanding a presence on and off the court.
Wade isn't exactly in his prime, either—he's coming off knee surgery and will be 31 in January—but will be plenty visible while playing for the defending champions.
There's no telling how Wade's new deal will turn out, whether it will solidify a new player on the footwear market or flame out. If things go according to plan, don't be surprised if these seven guys cast their lot with Li-Ning, perhaps even under the WADE brand, at some point down the line.