1988 - Miami Heat Team Formation
In Florida, a state at the time without an NBA franchise, groups from Orlando, Tampa/St. Petersburg and Miami all vied to land franchises. The Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority eventually endorsed a group led by NBA Hall of Fame Billy Cunningham and former sports agent and lifelong friend of Cunningham’s Lewis Schaffel, who received their financial backing from Carnival Cruise Lines founder Ted Arison, who would be majority owner. Day-to-day operations would be handled by minority shareholders Cunningham and Schaffel. In April 1987, the NBA expansion committee endorsed the bids of the cities of Charlotte and Minneapolis. However, the committee was split between awarding the third and final franchise to Miami or Orlando, causing representatives from both cities to toss barbs at the other. Finally, it was decided that the NBA would expand by 4 teams, with the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat debuting for the 1988 – 1989 season and the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic beginning for the 1989 – 1990 season.