When athletes endorse products, often they are merely attaching a famous name to boost sales.
Dwyane Wade can actually speak with a high level of expertise about his latest endorsement venture. MISSION Court Grip, which went on sale Wednesday at Foot Locker stores, is scientifically designed to combat the age-old problem that plagues gym rats everywhere: slippage.
“My game is about traction, changing direction,” Wade said Wednesday. [The idea was] how can we come up with something that can help everyone to play basketball and feel confident with the court, and just go out and play and not have to worry about sliding and slipping and injuries.”
It took scientists to concoct a liquid applied to the bottom of sneakers that uses pressure-sensitive nanotechnology designed to activate and provide grip when a player makes a cut. Wade began testing it about 18 months ago and used it throughout last season with the Heat.
“It gives confidence in my ability to be able to make my moves,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to play on not only the best courts but the best sneakers that the game has to offer. Some of the courts are still dirty, still dusty, not clean. I know that it’s even more of a problem in colleges and high schools and rec leagues.”
Court Grip will sell for $14.99 a bottle at Foot Locker and on Eastbay.com. It has an applicator sponge for applying evenly to the bottom of shoes. Wade said it dries within a few seconds and provides sure footing for about 15 minutes.
That is a big improvement on other futile attempts to get a grip that he has tried: “I’d spit on my hands, which is disgusting, or you wipe the bottom of your shoe constantly. I’ve tried all kinds of things that never worked, and I wanted to develop something that does work.”
Wade earlier this year joined a number of other top athletes as partners with MISSION, which produces a line of skincare products. Other notables involved include Serena Williams, David Wright, Mia Hamm and Steve Nash. The company has more than two dozen lotions and potions, including sunscreens, moisturizers and anti-chafe creams.
Wade embraced the testing of Court Grip as his own top-secret mission.
“I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think it helped my game. It’s not going to make you jump higher or better, but it will make you stable on the ground,” he said. “I wanted to get some knowledge about why no one has done it before, and understand that it’s not an easy thing to get the science of it down. A lot of people ask, is it sticky? Because that can cause injuries. It’s not. It’s a huge, huge plus from what we’ve been dealing with for years.”
All-star cast at FIU
Wade said Court Grip may show up in gift bags for players in the pro-am all-star exhibition that he and Heat teammates LeBron James and Chris Bosh are organizing at Florida International University on Oct. 8. Big-name players expected to play include Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and Amare Stoudemire. (Wade is pictured above with James and Paul this week at Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play in Washington).
If not for the NBA lockout, all of them would soon be headed to their team’s training camps. Wade says he remains hopeful that a new labor agreement will be reached and that in time to salvage the season.
“I try not to think about there not being a season. I understood that it might not start on time, and that they were going to be going through negotiations and labor talks for a while. Hopefully soon we can come to some kind of middle ground and understand that it’s bigger than all of us -- the owners, the players -- and that it is about the game of basketball that so many people around the world love.”
Wade, James and Bosh have the added incentive in wanting to get back on the court to move past the disappointment of the Heat’s loss to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals.
Wade, James plenty marketable
Soon after the humbling defeat, a Nielsen/E-Poll showed that Wade and James had fallen out of the top 10 of most marketable players in the NBA. Both had been near the top before most of America began to view the Heat as the Evil Empire.
Wade said he is more concerned about winning than trying to win over detractors.
“Winning cures all,” he said. “I don’t think LeBron has really had a problem with his marketability. He’s doing very well for himself, and brands want to be associated with him. I haven’t had to deal with that issue either. The brands I’m a part of are very supportive the whole way. And we appreciate that.”