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Heat owner Micky Arison says he voted against new NBA collective bargaining agreement

By By Ira Winderman

Sun Sentinel (MCT)

Published: Thursday, Dec. 22 2011 5:19 p.m. MST

MIAMI _ Despite desperately pushing for the conclusion of the NBA lockout, Heat owner Micky Arison revealed Thursday that he voted against the league's new collective-bargaining agreement.

One of only five owners to vote against the deal, with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban having also recently revealed he voted against the new agreement, Arison said he cast his vote only after the deal already had the required majority.

"I did everything I could, from both the owners' side and the players' side to get a deal done as quick as possible, to miss as few games as possible," he said. "So you've got to connect that to our vote."

Arison said his concern was how a team operating in the Heat's market size would have to pay into a new league revenue-sharing program.

"By the time we had got to vote, the deal had passed," he said, anxious for Sunday's season-opener in Dallas, a rematch of last season's NBA Finals that the Heat dropped in six games.

Arison said he favored a hard salary cap, but only after running all the potential numbers and being assured that he would be able to retain James, Wade and Bosh under such a system.

"Obviously, I wanted to see a negotiation that led to something that we could keep the team together, obviously, and it did," he said. "The fact is, they've made it expensive, but we can keep it together.

"We were very careful with that, and I think the league was, as well. Some owners would have loved to see us not be able to do that."

It is the revenue-sharing element that had Arison in opposition.

"While I did everything I could behind the scenes, and some not-so-behind-the-scenes, to get playing by Christmas," Arison said, "when you come down to it, financially, it's important to understand that revenue sharing and the CBA together, it's a tough financial deal for us, particularly the revenue-sharing piece of it, the way it's structured.

"For us to have to pay revenue sharing to larger-market teams was disturbing, and we will. And so that was a kind of protest vote on our part."

It was a rare extended session of candor from Arison, his first sitdown interview in nearly two years with writers who regularly cover the team.

Arison said the new agreement did not completely address market-size issues.

"I think while the league tried to level the playing field _ small market, big market _ there's still no question that teams in the New York, Chicago, L.A. area have a significant advantage," he said. "Maybe not as much as they had on the old CBA, but they still do."

Arison said he appreciates there also are other factors at play.

"I think this whole big-market, small-market thing is a little bit overstated in certain areas," he said. "First of all, people keep talking about us as big market, and we're smaller than Minnesota.

"It's important to understand it really isn't big-market, it's kind of attractive teams and those teams that are less attractive."

Arison, chairman of Carnival Corp., said the lack of a hard cap leaves wealthy owners, such as himself, constantly being expected to pay more, because there is no high-end limitation, other than an onerous luxury tax to be paid to the league on high-end payrolls. He said that was something he had hoped to avoid in a new agreement.

"That's why a hard-cap concept is a better concept than a luxury-tax concept," he said. "That's the way fans feel, that's the way players feel, that's the way coaches feel. The only one that feels different is people who run a business, who expect to get a return in their investment."

Instead, Arison, who was fined $500,000 by the NBA for expressing displeasure with the stoppage on his Twitter account, has to deal with a punitive luxury tax that could significantly impact Heat personnel decisions in coming years.

"I think we've, in the past, figured out how to play in different arenas," he said, "and I think we'll be able to work our way around this one."

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