MIAMI — The status of Dwyane Wade's real job is decidedly uncertain.
Nonetheless, the rest of his business seems to be booming.
Wade spent much of this week in New York at what he and his team call the "Brand Wade Summit," during which the Miami Heat star and partners like Gatorade, Jordan Brand, Hublot watches and other companies get together for a series of meetings about where they've been — and, most importantly, where they're going next.
Even with the NBA lockout going strong, Wade's off-court deals are doing just fine as well.
"It's taken on a whole other life," Wade said in a telephone interview at the end of Wednesday's summit session. "It's something that not only we look forward to, but the partners look forward to it every year. It's become like one of those annual retreats where you can't wait to sit down and get to business."
Broke when he entered the league eight years ago, Wade is now believed to make more in off-court earnings than in on-court salary, which was about $14 million alone this past season. His portfolio is steadily growing, with Wednesday marking the launch of a product he's involved with called Court Grip, something designed to keep players from slipping on basketball courts.
"I think it's going to change the game of basketball," Wade said.
And at this time of year, Wade starts getting geared up for the game of basketball — even though no one knows when the Heat will have their next meaningful contest. Wade will take part in a meeting about the ongoing labor talks in New York on Friday, acknowledging to The Associated Press that he is not sure what to expect.
"I look forward to learning something that I didn't learn two years ago," Wade said, referring to the session at the 2010 All-Star weekend in Dallas where players left dismayed over the status of talks between the union and the league. "Hopefully, it's different information, something that will move us forward."
This weekend, the lockout will enter its fourth month. Some preseason games have already been canceled, and more could be wiped off the schedules very soon unless the league and its players can quickly find common ground.
"Players are ready to play," Wade said, reiterating something he's said many times this offseason. "We're not on strike. It's a lockout."
He's found ways to stay busy, of course.
There were trips to Europe for fashion shows, to China for business opportunities, and around this country for commercial shoots, meetings, events and even some forays into the entertainment world. He's scheduled to appear with other NBA stars for a charity game in North Carolina on Saturday, then will help headline an event for more NBA players in Miami on Oct. 8 — along with Heat teammates LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
"We're hoping to do something for the community," Wade said.
Much of what's gone on in Wade's personal life has been tabloid fodder for years. He went through a long divorce, followed by an often-difficult custody fight for his children: two boys who were ultimately placed in his custody. He also had to go to court last year over a series of failed business deals, those lawsuits eventually being settled before any trials were completed.
Even with all those issues, Wade was able to not only keep his marketability, but see it grow.
"The biggest thing, and what I told some of the partners in the summit, was me thanking them for their constant support with everything that I've been through the last couple years on and off the court," Wade said. "And even now, we don't have a season right now, but they're still moving forward, still diving in to a way that we can all benefit from the brand that we all built together. That's why I love the partners I have. I know I'm lucky."
He'd be luckier if the NBA season starts sometime soon.
Wade, James and Bosh were certainly the most scrutinized trio of players on any team in the league last season. The Heat saw a huge boost in popularity after the three stars decided to team up in Miami in July 2010, and in turn, Wade has seen even more opportunities come his way because of the added exposure.
His team looks into just about every opportunity, looking for that next thing that might fit into Wade's brand. For now, anyway, the lockout hasn't derailed any of those interests.
"People don't need to necessarily see me in the jersey to understand who I am and what message I'm trying to get across with the things that I'm marketing," Wade said. "It's about taking advantage of the opportunities you have right now, and right now we're in a position where you call somebody and they're willing to pick up and take the call because they're a fan, you have to take advantage of that and have a chance to capitalize on your ideas."
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