TORONTO (CBSMiami/AP) — Dwyane Wade is bigger than basketball.
When Wade calls, even Ludacris listens.
The 12-time All-Star from the Miami Heat and the rapper-turned-actor were headliners for a panel discussion regarding the business element of sports and entertainment on Sunday, not long before Wade was to play in the NBA's midseason showcase game.
Ludacris was planning to attend All-Star weekend just as a fan, then cleared out some time to join Wade's event.
"I applaud him for even making this happen," Ludacris said. "It's a decision that he made that brought us all in this room."
Wade spent about an hour talking about how he and his team, and the companies they've chosen to align with, are continually trying to build his brand.
The talk attracted former NBA players like Jerry Stackhouse and Roger Mason Jr., executives from foundations working with other NBA players and even Michele Roberts — the executive director of the players' union — was on the panel.
"I wish every single one of our players had the business acumen and intelligence that he has," Roberts said during the panel discussion. "What he does is he realizes that he's valuable. I have always understood that basketball players have such marketability. They have such value. They are the most popular athletes in the United States, for sure."
Wade talked about his business slip-ups in some detail, revealing that he lost "millions" when a restaurant and memorabilia deal wound up getting litigated for three years, and saying that he lost millions more in his divorce from his first wife and subsequent custody fight.
He also shed some light on his business successes, and what he gleaned from taking a short class at Harvard Business School last summer. He told the invited guests to never be "the smartest person in any room."
"One thing I try to do is learn and ask questions, educate myself," Wade said. "You have to understand that you are your brand, and your brand is going to go as far as you take it."
Wade said he felt it was important to have the discussion — he called it a "power hour" — even though his All-Star schedule was jampacked.
He said players like Magic Johnson shared knowledge with him when he was starting out on his All-Star path, and Ludacris nodded in agreement when Wade said events like Sunday's were critical to pass information along to others and have a sense of giving back.
"I felt it was important for us to start a conversation," Wade said. "As an athlete, we're in this world of me-me-me. We don't share enough of our successes and our failures to help each other out. I wanted to go down that path ... and I think we can all be more successful."
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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