The Miami Heat lost the battle against the San Antonio Spurs for the NBA title and the subsequent battle against the Cleveland Cavaliers for LeBron James. However, the Heat won the more-important war with Miami-Dade County for what has been referred to by some as a sweetheart deal for the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Despite the County Commission’s 10-2 vote in favor of the deal, a Herald poll the following week, the same week the Heat began the NBA Finals, found a majority of voters, 53 percent, against the deal vs. just 38 percent in favor of it. So, 83 percent of commissioners approved a deal that just 38 percent of the voters approved. In statistics, we call this a “transposition error;” in Miami we call this politics as usual.
Most telling was the timing of this commission approval, since the Heat’s previous deal with the county did not expire until 2029.
The Heat, however, exercised its option to begin renewal discussions early and apparently pushed hard to complete the deal before the NBA Finals and the subsequent negotiation of Jame’s free agency. It is fair to say that the commission, and the voters, would have been much less generous to the Heat without a Three-Peat and certainly without LeBron. Time, as they say, was clearly of the essence.
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The approval of this deal was so important to the Heat that they recruited the best lawyers, lobbyists and other professionals and even ran a full-page color ad in the Herald in late April. Their full-court press paid off, since the commission’s vote came just a few days before the start of the NBA Finals.
The Heat’s game winning shot, however, was delivered by none other than its vice president of player programs, former Heat superstar, and now Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning.
He sealed the deal when he appeared before the commission on June 3 and used his star power to help get a 10-2 slam-dunk approval.
And for this performance, Zo deserves the Heat’s MVP award for this past season.
Kenneth H. Thomas, Miami