Leading The Miami Heat On The Court To A Fourth Consecutive Eastern Conference Finals Appearance, Off Of The Court Dwyane Wade Makes His Mark In The Fantasy Basketball Camp Marketplace
By Alicia Jessop
In the final minute of last night’s Game 5 match-up against the Brooklyn Nets, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat secured a win and clinched a berth into the team’s fourth consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearance. The last four seasons have been revolutionary for the Heat, stemming largely from the team’s ability to use salary cap space to bring the talents of Wade, LeBron Jamesand Chris Bosh together in 2010. In the four years since coming together with the other members of the “Big Three” on the Heat’s hardwood, Wade has also built a vast brand for himself outside of basketball. Wade’s brand is largely guided by fashion, demonstrated by deals with shoe company Li-Ning, luxury watch company Hublot and his collection with the Tie Bar. Yet, the core of Wade’s brand remains centered around basketball. It is for this reason that also in 2010, Wade launched the Dwyane Wade Fantasy Basketball Camp to share his passion and knowledge of the sport with devoted fans.
In recent years, fantasy basketball camps have popped up across the basketball landscape. The trend arguably began with Michael Jordan’s Senior Flight School, which would bring together participants over the age of 34 for a weekend of basketball and celebration in Las Vegas. When Jordan quit hosting the camp in 2010, the marketplace became filled with college coaches’ fantasy camps. Coaches ranging from Kansas’ Bill Self to the University of Miami’s Jim Larrañaga have partnered with camp organizer Pro Camps to create a fantasy camp circuit of sorts at their home schools. In the mix of this though, after Jordan wound up his fantasy camp, the space for an NBA player hosted fantasy camp largely went unfilled until Wade stepped in in 2010.
The fantasy camp experience is arguably unlike anything a sports fan can engage in. For a fee–and generally a large one, as the camps range in price from $2,995 to $10,995–participants not only get to live out a hoop dream, but receive coaching and instruction from the sport’s top leaders, individualized and group experiences with the camps’ hosts and specialized accommodations and events targeted to pique high net worth individuals’ interests.
With a price tag of several-to-tens-of-thousands-of-dollars and an age requirement generally exceeding 35, the target market for fantasy camps is relatively limited. Generally, camps serve business professionals who are the leaders of their industry. The question then becomes for these busy participants, why is participation and engagement in these camps beneficial to them? Why would a CEO of a major corporation step away from the office to play basketball for a few days? In talking to past participants of Wade’s camps, the reasoning becomes apparent: First, Wade is a unprecedentedly gracious host who works hard to bring his circle of basketball star friends and participants together in an authentic way and second, the men who engage in his camp pick up skills on the hardwood that they can take back to the corner office.
Robert Printz is gearing up to participate in his fourth Dwyane Wade Fantasy Camp. The 52-year-old jokes that he’ll continue participating in the camp, so long as he sees the 70-year-old that plays in Jim Larrañaga’s camp continue to show up. Yet, life is busy for Printz, who serves as a principal and co-head of investor relations for AVM, L.P., while also balancing fatherhood. Thus, participation in Wade’s camp for Printz is about more than pushing back the hands of father time and living out a basketball dream. Rather, it is about gaining an experience he hasn’t found elsewhere in his successful life. ”The highlight of the camp is playing against the pros. Dwyane brings down a bunch of his friends, like Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers and Tim Hardaway, Jr. These guys come out and to be on the same court running with them in a game, you realize what freakishly great athletes they really are. It’s your childhood dream, no matter how old you are. I’m 52-years-old, and it’s a thrill thinking you’re going to take a jump shot over one of these elite pros,” Printz said.
While Printz has found joy that he equates to being “12-years-old again” on the court during Wade’s fantasy camps, he also has left the weekend with tools to take back to his office developed largely from the coaches he’s interacted with at the camps. With coaches ranging from the Heat’s Erik Spoelstra to Indiana University’s Tom Crane leading them, participants not only hone their game, but learn management strategies from some of the world’s greatest motivators. ”These coaches are just such great communicators. They are such great leaders. When you sit with Tom Crean and watch him and see his demeanor and how he deals with people, it helps you in the world of business. These coaches are really some of the greatest leaders, other than the military. To be able to see them in action and take tidbits of some of the best things they do is great,” Printz noted.
Another camp participant, José R. Mas, who serves as the CEO of MasTec echoed Printz’s sentiments. ”To see a guy like Dwyane, who has achieved the highest level in his own career, and see the intensity and precision in which he does everything, is important. I have never left a camp without taking something away that I could implement in my own business,” Mas explained. However, Mas also focused on another take-away camp participants stand to gain: Building a bigger and better network. ”The network that you make through the camp is with people who are successful or engaged in some aspect of life that they’ve succeeded in. You come away making some really good friendships. At the end of the day, not everything is about money or financial success. Being able to go out and compete in a game where someone is going to win and someone is going to lose, and the team who lays it all out is the one that is going to be successful, is a thrill that you can’t always get in your business endeavors,” Mas said.
Dwyane Wade’s fourth annual fantasy basketball camp runs from July 31 through August 3 in Hollywood Beach, FL. Wade invites individuals to participate here.