Is the Miami Heat’s Micky Arison the Richest Owner in the NBA?

Micky Arison of the Miami Heat is one of the quietest owners in the NBA. While Mark Cuban is constantly speaking in front of cameras, giving his two cents, and becoming part of the Mavericks’ brand, Arison has been content working in the shadows as a quieter owner.

With billions of dollars to his name, he can afford to. As heir to Carnival Cruise Lines, Arison is worth a hefty fortune. Is it enough to make him the NBA’s richest owner, though?

Who is Micky Arison?

Micky Arison’s father, Ted, was the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines, but it was Micky who turned the cruise line into an industry leader. He began working for his father’s company in 1979 at just 30 years of age and became CEO 11 years later. Carnival Cruise Lines hosts cruises all around the world. 

Carnival has gone past cruise ships under Micky’s dealership, too. The company constructed the massive Crystal Palace Resort and Casino in the Bahamas for $250 million. The company went public in 1987 with Micky as president and received an initial public offering of over $400 million in the aftermath. Already making himself a name in the business world before becoming CEO, Micky’s ambitions knew no bounds. 

In 1995, however, Micky took over the family’s stake in the Miami Heat and immediately brought in legendary head coach Pat Riley. He also pushed for a brand new arena for the team to play in.

Over the next few years, the Heat saw moderate success under the guidance of Alonzo Mourning and company, but it was when the team drafted Dwyane Wade in 2003 that fortunes turned. 

Building the Miami Heat into champions

That initial payment to Pat Riley might have been the most lucrative investment that Micky made in basketball. Riley had success as a coach, but his career as a front office executive might be what he’s most remembered for in Miami.

Before long, the team found itself with Hall of Fame big man Shaquille O’Neal, and the team won its first NBA Championship in 2006 with Wade leading the way and O’Neal taking a back seat. 

The signature move of Micky’s career as an NBA owner, however, came in 2010. With lots of cap room and rumbling of interest from LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Miami Heat did the unthinkable and signed not just James, but Bosh as well. The NBA was changed forever, and the audacity of Arison’s willingness to bring in two superstars in their primes did not go unnoticed. 

The Miami Heat won two additional Championships and made it to four-straight NBA Finals before James left. While the team has not been able to replicate the success, the addition of Jimmy Butler has brought the team back to playoff form, and with Micky at the helm, they could see more success shortly. 

Is Micky Arison the richest owner in the NBA?

Micky Arison might be retired as CEO of Carnival, but he is still a very rich man. According to Forbes, Arison is worth just shy of $8 billion. The Miami Heat alone are worth an estimated $1.9 billion in Forbes’ most recent valuation.

In most walks of life, that kind of money would make him the richest man in any room, but when the owners converge for NBA business, Micky’s riches only rank third in terms of value. 

Two of the NBA’s most recent owners have Micky beat in the wealth department. Steve Ballmer, the eccentric former CEO of Microsoft and 16th richest person in the world, boasts an astounding $51.4 billion in wealth. Joseph Tsai of the Brooklyn Nets, who were bought in September of 2019 for a hefty sum, comes in second with $9.7 billion made from international marketplace Alibaba. 

Micky has wealth unlike what most people can imagine, and as NBA teams grow in value, it could get bigger any second. His business acumen has made him one of the most successful people in the world, and his abilities as an owner have made him just as commendable there.

He might not be the richest owner in the NBA, but Micky can rest his head knowing that he has the proper set of skills and know-how to build a successful franchise like he would a successful company.