Greatest All-Time Starting 5: Miami Heat
Here at Off the Glass we’re taking on the arduous task of going through every NBA teams’ greatest possible starting five, using players that have played for that franchise. A player at each position (Point Guard through Center) will be selected, along with a 6th man who can be any position.
This is how it works:
Players selected must have played at least two full seasons for the franchise
The selection will be based on a combination of statistics, accomplishments/accolades and their significance to the franchise in question
Players had to have predominantly played at that particular position for at least one season to be eligible
Let’s get started.
Point Guard-Tim Hardaway:
The best point guard in franchise history is a no brainer, as only one name came to mind. Hardaway wasted no time establishing himself as a franchise player. In his first full season with the Heat, he averaged 20.3 points and 8.6 assist per and led the team to a franchise record 61 wins. That season he was selected to the All-NBA First Team, an All-Star team member and finished fourth in voting for the league’s Most Valuable Player Award. He is the owner of four franchise records, which include 806 three-point field goals and 19 assist in a single game.
Shooting Guard Dwyane Wade:
Not only is Wade the Heat’s best shooting guard; he is the face of the franchise. Since bursting onto the scene in South Beach in 2003, Wade lifted the Heat to new heights. His performance in the 2006 NBA Finals is considered one of the greatest of all-time. He helped the team rally from a 2-0 deficit to capture the title. Wade averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 steals on his way to being named Finals MVP. His name is listed on 16 franchise records that include games (855), minutes (30,560), points (20,221), steals (1414) and assists (4944) just to name a few.
His list of accomplishment as a member of the Heat doesn’t end there, as he won a NBA scoring title in 2009, a 12 time All-Star, a two-time All-NBA First Team, and three-time NBA Champion.
Simply put, Dwyane Wade is the Miami Heat
Small Forward-LeBron James:
On July 8, 2010, James made an announcement on a live ESPN event titled “The Decision” that would change the organization forever. He uttered the words, “This fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.”
“King James” went on to win two regular season MVPs, two Finals MVPs, two championships, along with four All-NBA First Teams, three NBA All-Defensive First teams and four All-Star team selections. He also helped led the team to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances. He was able to accomplish all this in just four seasons with the organization. As well as own eight franchise records including triple-doubles (13), most points in a single regular season game (61), and postseason game (49).
It’s difficult to find another Small Forward who made such an impact on the Heat in a short amount of time like James.
Power Forward-Udonis Haslem:
Despite Chris Bosh being a two-time NBA Champion with the organization, UD gets the nod as the team's all-time Power Forward. He signed with Miami in 2003 as an undrafted free agent. UD has been apart of all three championship teams playing a pivotal role in helping the team capture their first title in 2006.
He is the owner of the franchise record for rebounds with a total of 5,665. Beyond being the Heat’s best power forward, Haslem may be the most underrated player in franchise history. He is in the top five of many franchise records including games, minutes played, field goals, two-point field goals made and attempted. In 2010, Haslem also took a pay cut which allowed Pat Riley to assemble the Heat’s “Super Team.”
His sacrifice and dedication to the organization earns him a spot in the Heat’s All Time Starting Five. He currently resides on the roster serving as a mentor for younger players. There is no doubt his number will hang in the rafters after he retires.
Zo or Shaq? Number 33 or 32? Alonzo Mourning or Shaquille O’Neal? As great as both men were for the Heat, the selection goes to Mourning. The 2014 Hall of Fame inductee became the anchor of the team’s defense from 1995-2002, winning two Defensive Player of the Year Awards as well as a two time NBA All-Defense First Team. A kidney disease cost him the entire 2002-03 season and abruptly brought his Heat career to an end. Mourning would make his triumphant return to the Heat in 2005 and captured his first NBA Championship. His 1,625 blocks lead the organization, while he ranks second in career points with 9,459. As of June 2009, he joined the organization again, this time as a Vice President of Player Programs and Development. Mourning will forever be apart of the Miami Heat family as he now joins their all-time starting Lineup.
6th Man-Shaquille O’Neal:
Mourning slightly edged out the Diesel; however, there is no denying that Shaq was an important player to the franchise. In his four-year career with the Heat, O’Neal averaged 19.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. The larger than life personality brought flare and was the perfect running mate to teammate Dwyane Wade. Together they led the Heat to their first ever NBA Championship. In those playoffs, the Big Aristotle was a vital part to the postseason success averaging 18.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. O’Neal aka “Superman” also provided Wade with his signature nickname. “Flash.”
On February 9, the Heat announced they would retire O’Neal’s No. 32 jersey at the beginning of the 2016-17 season. He will join fellow teammates Hardaway and Mourning in the American Airlines Arena rafters as the only Heat players to have their numbers retired by the organization.
Did I miss any of your favorite Heat? Let me know if you agree or disagree – @Al_Roman87
Sources: ESPN, Basketball-Reference, Bleacher Report, NBA