Dwyane Wade is a modern renaissance man.
An Olympic gold medalist and a three-time NBA champion, Wade could have enjoyed a comfortable retirement knowing his legacy was intact. But after hanging up his sneaks in 2019, Wade’s immersed himself in the marketing and media world, leveraging his nearly two decades of experience as a brand sponsor and spokesperson—for Gatorade, Budweiser and New Era, to name a few—to launch CAA AMP in collaboration with the talent agency CAA to tackle diversity and representation in the sports media market.
Speaking to Adweek’s chief brand officer Danny Wright at Brandweek, Wade dove into his inspirations and memorable career, how his family inspires his current work and how CAA AMP is providing brands a new voice and strategy to navigate the “new normal” of 2020.
How he landed on wearing No. 3 for (almost) his entire career
After redshirting his freshman year at Marquette University, Wade felt like he needed a fresh start for his collegiate year, deciding to change from his high school number, 25.
“This is a new start for me. At the time my mom was in prison, I was living away from home for the first time, I just needed a new start,” said Wade. Eventually he landed on No. 3, inspired by Hall of Fame Point Guard Allen Iverson. “He was the younger kids’ Jordan, how cool he was. Number three is the number for me,” he added.
It stuck: Wade would wear No. 3 during his 14-year career with the Miami Heat, where he holds almost all of the franchise’s top records.
His proudest accomplishments
Despite an accomplished resume, Wade says over the entirety of his career, his most memorable moments are the bookends: the day he was drafted and the night he retired, after a return to the Heat for a farewell tour in 2019.
“It was the beginning and the end. The moment I got drafted, all the hard work, all the moments when people told me I wouldn’t and couldn’t,” said Wade.
As well, he said it was a gift “to be able to walk away from the game, at my own merit. To be able to walk away and move into this next phase of my life kind of seamlessly, everything in between is like a dream. When I hear things, when I see videos I’m like, ‘Dang, you were that good? That’s all a dream.’”
How leadership changes on and off the court
“It’s all about understanding your strengths and weaknesses, it’s about looking in the mirror and being true with yourself,” said Wade, noting that he was always great getting to the paint, but wasn’t a knock down three-point shooter. That translates to business.
“I understand that I’m a creative thinker, but I know that I have so many other people that I’ve been blessed enough to put around me that have strengths that are weaknesses of mine,” said Wade. “To be able to lean on them and to create this opportunity for them to be able to come in and shine as well, has been one of my biggest accomplishments away from basketball.”
What inspired him to become CAA’s chief culture officer and found CAA AMP
After a career that’s seen him work with a variety of brands, Wade acknowledged that he didn’t always feel like diverse voices were represented among the C-suites of the brands and creative agencies he’s worked with. That’s one of the reasons why he’s working with CAA, serving as the chief culture officer of the agency’s basketball division.