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Volume 21 No. 47
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Forty Under 40

As CEO of the Miami Heat, Nick Arison knows that hard work is the best way to silence anyone who thinks he was simply handed the top job by his father, Micky, who owns the franchise.

“From the beginning, I wanted to put my head down and work my butt off and earn anything I received,” Arison said. “I didn’t want anyone to think I was allowed to get away with what they wouldn’t have.”

Arison’s hustle and his humble approach define his executive style, leading the defending NBA champion’s operations both on the floor and on the business side. The Heat ranks near the top of the league in nearly every metric.

Arison is familiar with every aspect of the team’s business given that he has worked in nearly every department of the club, including spending high school summers in the mail room. He also has worked in player scouting and is just as comfortable on the basketball side of the franchise as he is on the business side.

Building from that experience, Arison was named CEO in July 2011 after Micky watched his son work his way up the organizational ladder.

“It gives you a much deeper understanding of the ins and outs of the organization and it gives you perspective in where people are coming from in terms of what they need,” Micky Arison said of his son’s path.

Arison’s hardworking approach plays well across the NBA, as well.

“It is a cliché, but Nick has held every single job at the team level, including washing laundry,” said NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. “He is now steeped in every aspect of the business and is an active participant in every part of the Heat’s operation. There is a certain maturity to him far beyond his years.”

That maturity was beneficial for Arison, among the youngest top executives in the league, early in his CEO tenure. He assumed the job not long after the Heat had lost in the NBA Finals and as the league was beginning its 2011 lockout.

“My dad became chief executive officer of Carnival cruises at the same age I became CEO of the Heat,” Arison said, “and he said I was more prepared than he was.”

— John Lombardo

Age: 31
Title: Chief executive officer
ORGANIZATION: Miami Heat and AmericanAirlines Arena
Education: B.A., public policy, Duke University
Family: Single
Career: Duke basketball, USA Basketball, The Heat Group (since 2003); named CEO in 2011

First Job: Miami Heat ball boy
How do you strike a work-life balance? It’s a challenge when your hobby is also your job. It helps that my girlfriend, Jenna Green, is a huge sports fan.

Best business advice received: Don’t be too anxious to make a deal. Sometimes the best deal you make is the one you don’t make.
Worst advice received: There’s always next year.
IPOD PLAYLIST: A little of everything: Jay-Z, Lenny Kravitz, Lionel Richie, Parachute
Stress release: Playing with my two dogs, Duke and Gracie; shooting hoops
Guilty pleasure: Cookies and cream ice cream
Favorite movie line: “Rule
No. 76: No Excuses. Play Like a Champion.” (“Wedding Crashers”)