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Sneaker Wars heat up with Justise Winslow raising Miami's global profile

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An investment on a rising young player can pay dividends for sneaker companies and, by extension, their NBA teams.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Hassan Whiteside posted a tweet recently on his affiliation with the Nike juggernaut. Details on what his deal was worth weren't officially announced. We'll learn later whether he appears in ads or has his own signature shoe line.

As reported before at hothothoops, Justise Winslow signed a contract with Adidas, whose logo on the NBA jerseys will be replaced by Nike for the 2017-18 season. Hopefully the proposed alternative "Miami Vice" themed Heat uniforms are available before then.

Dwyane Wade endorsed Converse sneakers, which was acquired by Nike. He left Nike for Li-Ning in 2012 because "nobody was lining up down the street" to buy his signature line of Nike sneakers. He signed a 10-year deal with Li-Ning for cash, plus an equity take in company and complete creative control of his signature products. While his investment in the company has not been profitable yet, it's a project he will work on after his playing days are over. Wade was introduced to Li-Ning when his then-teammate Shaquille O'Neal endorsed them in 2006.

The other Heat player with a major footwear contract is Amar'e Stoudemire, with his signature Nike Air Max Sweep that is worth a reported $3 million.

cheatsheet article points out the importance of footwear in the NBA since it is a star-driven-league and "it's the only major U.S. sport with players that don't have their faces obscured by helmets or other protective gear." It lists the top ten sneaker endorsements by NBA players with a picture of Chris Paul's vast footwear collection that has taken on Floyd Mayweather proportions.

The Adidas tubular site features Winslow on its front page. His appearance generates enormous free publicity for the Miami Heat franchise worldwide. Not only is Adidas prominently spotlighting a Miami Heat player, but they are doing with no cost to the Heat, for a global audience way past South Florida. The Miami Heat could be garnering fans unreachable by the mainstream broadcast media, who may then buy other Heat merchandise.

Winslow has a combined 400,000 Twitter and Instagram followers, which translates into Miami Heat fans even before he has played a single game in the NBA. He made an appearance at the White House as part of the Duke University team. Winslow loves the limelight, and visa-versa, which pays huge dividends to the business side of the Miami Heat franchise.

The impact of his performance on the floor during the season remains to be seen. For his long-term health and his importance to the franchise, a gradual increase of playing time is the best strategy for Winslow. In school most teams play about 40 games of 40 minutes each: about 1,600 minutes.

In the NBA players have a schedule with 82 games of 48 minutes, or about 4,000 minutes because there some overtime games. That is more than double the scheduled time compared to college hoops. It doesn't even include practice time between games. Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose are two examples of young NBA All-Stars who were injured from over-use at an early age and unavailable to play when their teams needed them the most: in the playoffs.

If Miami avoids Cleveland's and Chicago's short-sighted mistakes, Winslow will become stronger and more durable as the season goes on. He'll be ready to contribute when he is most needed, in post-season play when all eyes throughout the world are on the premier teams and players of the league -- a marketer's dream.