Is Micky Arison The Owners’ Weak Link?

Micky ArisonAlmost a year ago, the Miami Heat began work on a (at least) four-year plan to bring Miami a title (or more).  In year one, the Heat came painfully close to winning one of those titles.  But now, with three years left before player options come up, Heat owner Micky Arison could lose a year of prime championship contention due to a lockout.  

Which leads the Miami Herald’s Israel Gutierrez (via SB Nation) to wonder how likely Arison is to stand strong with other hard-line owners.

Is this really the time for labor strife to potentially cost you a full season? Isn’t this the worst possible time to consider bonding with these newer, more desperate owners around the league for the sake of shared health? Wouldn’t a potential lost season put a huge dent into this perfect model you essentially have spent four years planning for and building?

There might not be another owner in the NBA with more to lose if the league loses an entire season than Arison. And he is just one of several who provides proof that this NBA lockout will essentially come down to owners bickering among other owners rather than the more common players-versus-owners picture that is normally painted.

Playoff runs make money.  They sell tickets and merchandise.  Sustained greatness makes future TV deals more lucrative.  So when you’ve got the guns to win the shootout, you want to keep that going for a while.  Arison might want his guys to get back out there tomorrow so they can get to work on winning a title.  When you’ve got a stud roster, you want as many cracks at a title as you can get. 

And he’s not alone.  A guy like Mark Cuban (also referenced in the story) has been a free spender who is trying to ride his own momentum to another ring before the old guys hang ’em up.  But Arison hasn’t spent like Cuban, flaunting his wads of cash in the faces of other owners.  He’s been more careful with his money.  Which brings up a quandary:

And now he’s supposed to be penalized because some newer, less established owners want to guarantee their investment is a money-making one and not just a hobby for multimillionaires who make most of their money elsewhere? He’s supposed to risk a season of bringing in approximately $125 million (again, according to Forbes) because NBA commissioner David Stern allowed others to buy teams with the promise that the league would adjust its entire business model even though this one has been working perfectly fine for Arison? He’s supposed to show unity with his fellow owners when it’s essentially the tail wagging the dog in that circle, and influential owners such as Arison, Mark Cuban, Jerry Buss and James Dolan would be perfectly fine if the current system remained as is?

The big question here is David Stern.  He’s been a the forefront of this lockout.  Will he be able to keep the owners in line and keep guys like Arison mollified as the lockout drags on?  Or will the Arison and his fellow big-time owners break under the pressure of potential on-court success and make compromises in order to get it?

Associated Press photo