China's leading sports company, Li-Ning, announced it's official partnership with the Miami Heat earlier today. The company facilitated the partnership through NBA All-Star and two-time champion Dwyane Wayne, who shocked the world in October by leaving Jordan Brand in favor of a new endorsement deal with the domestically relatively unknown athletic brand.
The details of the deal were ambiguous at the time, but Wade's agent, Henry Thomas, revealed that part of his client's agreement includes receiving equity in Li-Ning, which prompted his move versus staying with Jordan Brand or heading over to adidas.
"In the end, the pros outweighed the cons," Wade told ESPN in regard to his decision to part ways with Michael Jordan's company. "Jordan might have that cool factor, but I'm at a different point in my career. I want to be involved in building something."
Today, Li-Ning unveiled their master plan in the form of WADE, a new athletic footwear and apparel collection that the company recently launched with the superstar guard.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Li-Ning's profits have been steadily declining. Earnings reportedly fell from 582 million yuan ($93 million) in the first half of 2010 to just 44 million yuan in the same period this year. The company's newly structured partnership with the Miami Heat organization looks to be an attempt to raise profits internationally.
Read Li-Ning's official press release below.
BEIJING AND MIAMI – December 17, 2012 – China's leading sportswear company, LI-NING Company, today announced it has become an Official Partner of the NBA Champion Miami HEAT, effective immediately. The partnership is part of a comprehensive marketing program to support WADE, a new athletic footwear and apparel collection that LI-NING recently launched with two-time NBA Champion and HEAT star Dwyane Wade.
The partnership provides LI-NING with in-arena signage at AmericanAirlines Arena and other advertising assets on Miami HEAT properties, including HEAT.com and the team's TV broadcasts on Sun Sports. LI-NING products, including WADE branded merchandise, may be sold at the Arena in 2013.
“We are very excited to be the latest all-star to join the roster of the Miami HEAT and help support the team's journey to another NBA Championship,” said Brian Cupps, director of brand initiatives for basketball at LI-NING. “The HEAT offer an amazing platform on which to engage with fans who will love our upcoming WADE merchandise.”
“The LI-NING brand represents both style and substance and is therefore a welcome addition to the Miami HEAT family of partners,” said Eric Woolworth, President of The HEAT Group's Business Operations. “We're eager to help introduce LI-NING to HEAT fans everywhere, and we are confident their new collection of WADE merchandise will have a very broad appeal.”
Photo: ESPN, Li-Ning