Greg Cote

Decision that spawned Big 3 among Top 50 breakthrough moments in sports history, new book says

There have been two events in the history of South Florida sports over the past 50 years that have stood out for their beyond-sports impact and significance. That’s according to a new book called “The Sports Business Handbook,” which lists the 50 biggest “breakthrough moments” over the past half century.

One is the arrival of the Williams sisters in 2002, tennis siblings raised in Palm Beach Gardens after learning the sport on cracked asphalt courts in tough Compton, California. African-American sisters Serena and Venus Williams “together and individually built a platform from which to set an agenda on a variety of issues,” says the book. “They changed what the public expects of tennis.”

The other South Florida-connected watershed moment? LeBron James’ ‘The Decision’ in 2010, when he revealed in an orchestrated, nationally televised announcement that he was leaving Cleveland and taking his talents to South Beach and the Heat. “It’s clear that King James’ televised special set a new course for the modern NBA offseason,” said the book.

Subtitled “Insights From 100+ Leaders Who Shaped 50 Years Of The Industry,” the book was written by Rick Horrow, along with Rick Burton and Myles Schrag. The forward is by Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. It is out starting next week, or now at

Horrow, born and raised in Miami Beach but now living in Jupiter, has a long history in sports as a businessman and developer. He had a lot to do with the original Miami Arena and has been heard on Bloomberg, Yahoo and elsewhere. He was graduatep from Harvard, where he continues in a lecture series. He trademarked the phrase, The Sports Professor.

“Sports is deal-making and law and business and marketing and administration. Revenue from sports is over a trillion dollars,” Horrow describes the impetus for the book. “Fifty years ago was around the first time people really started focusing on those off-the-field things. Before that if it wasn’t in a box score, it wasn’t reported or talked about.”

The idea for the book arose in a conversation with former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, another of the project’s contributors.

Dolphins and stadium owner Stephen Ross, golfing legend Jack Nicklaus, Dolphins icons Don Shula and Bob Griese and tennis/golf tournament director Butch Buchholz are among Miami-associated chapter contributors.

Others of the 50 “breakthrough moments” in sports business over the past half-century, moments that had impact or resonated beyond sports, are led chronologically by the black power salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Other notables include Curt Flood setting the stage for free agency; the institution of Title IX; the Miracle On Ice; the creation of the Air Jordan Brand ; the birth of ESPN; the O.J. Simpson murder trial; Tiger Woods winning his first Masters; the publication of the book Moneyball; the emergence of eSports; and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee.

The release of the book has spawned a 23-city “symposium tour” that will stretch across two years, kicking off Thursday at Harvard Business School in Boston.

A Miami stop hosted at Hard Rock Stadium and featuring Ross is planned for this summer; date to be determined. West Palm Beach, Orlando and Jacksonville also are on the tentative schedule.

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Greg Cote is a Miami Herald sports columnist who in 2018 was named top 10 in column writing by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Greg also appears regularly on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio and ESPNews.