On May 6, 1986, former ABA standout and Philadelphia 76ers Head Coach Billy Cunningham and theatrical producer Zev Bufman announced plans to bring an NBA franchise to Miami. Later that year, Ted Arison, Carnival Cruise Lines owner, became a partner in the Miami efforts. In 1987, the NBA decided to expand and Miami was admitted for the 1988-89 season.
On November 5, 1988, Miami began regular season play in the NBA by hosting the Los Angeles Clippers at the Miami Arena before a sell-out crowd of 15,008. The HEAT would lose the game, 101-80, but would get its revenge weeks later. The HEAT got its first franchise victory on December 14, when they edged the Clippers, 89-88, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. By the end of its first season, the HEAT finished with a hard fought 15-67 record.
On February 13, 1995, the Arison family solidified its control of the HEAT by purchasing majority interests in the team, and Micky Arison was named Managing General Partner. One of Arison’s first moves in his new role was to quickly turn Miami into a championship contender. Mr. Arison brought Pat Riley as president and head coach. That same year, Riley orchestrated a deal that brought in All-Star Center Alonzo Mourning.
As time went by, the HEAT fought to climb the NBA ladder. In June 2003, the HEAT snatched Dwyane Wade from Marquette University in the 2003 NBA draft. A year later, they added diesel to the fire when 11-time All-Star center Shaquille O’Neal joined the roster. The following season, Riley orchestrated a five-team, 13-player trade, the largest in NBA history, which brought All-Star Antoine Walker, Jason Williams and James Posey to the HEAT. That trade proved to be the recipe for success, as Miami brought home its first NBA championship in 2006.
Under the direction of Pat Riley, the HEAT contnues to orchestrate trade deals to solidify the organization's position as a championship franchise.