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Nick Arison looks like heir apparent to Pat Riley as Heat president

The Miami Heat’s big personnel move of the summer didn’t come with the fanfare of last July’s Big Three.

No introduction amid a cloud of smoke, no pep rally, no grandiose pronouncements.

Nick Arison, named Friday at chief executive officer to oversee the day-to-day operation of the Heat, isn’t even doing interviews beyond the statement issued by the team, a spokesman said.
Like father, like son. Micky Arison, team owner and managing general partner, is media shy in the extreme, the anti-Mark Cuban. The CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, he prefers to assemble a good crew and let them run the ship.

Nick Arison, 30, appears to be following his dad’s example in operating under the rader. That is not to say this is an insignificant move by the Heat. Nor is it unexpected.

The younger Arison has been groomed for leadership of the franchise since he graduated from Duke, where he was team manager of the Blue Devils basketball team under Mike Krzyzewski for four years.

Since being named vice president of basketball operations in 2008, he has been working under the hand of another legend, Pat Riley. He has done considerably more than fetch coffee.
Notably, Arison was actively involved in recruiting LeBron James and Chris Bosh during the 2010 free-agent sweepstakes.

The seeds of those relationships were likely planted while Arison was on the support staff of USA Basketball under Krzyzewski for the 2006 World Championships. James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade all played on that team, and it has been cited as the genesis for the Big Three ultimately coming together in Miami.

In his new role, Arison will report directly to Micky Arison. But make no mistake about who will continue to call the shots that guide the team on the court.

“As far as the decision-making process goes concerning coaches, training staff and players, that will remain my responsibility as it has the last 16 years,” Riley said. “Over the years, we as a front office have always come to a consensus, along with Micky and Nick, on personnel moves and Nick has played a major role in those transactions. I will continue to support Nick in all ways possible.”

That is status quo for now. But Riley is 66.

Nick Arison started out as a team attendant. He has followed a comprehensive progression through community affairs, sales, marketing and helping convene the Big Three for that now-infamous unveiling party a year ago.

Clearly his next step is to into the Heat president's office. What remains to be seen is when Riley will elect to pass the torch.

When that happens, the logical move will be to bring in someone in a role as general manager to direct the basketball operations, a position that doesn’t exist under Riley.

Friday’s announcement doesn’t come with any predictions of championships aplenty, but it does bring into clearer focus the future of the Heat from the top down.

Categories: Miami Heat (174)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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