Miami Heat Mount Rushmore
OTG Basketball presents, NBA Mount Rushmore, where we look at who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of each team in the league. Up next, is the Miami Heat.
Landing in Miami as part of the highly touted 2003 NBA draft class, Wade began to transform the franchise almost immediately. The Heat went from the lottery in 2003 to having homecourt advantage in the 2004 playoffs. In 2005, Miami acquired Shaquille O’Neal via trade and the rest is history. Wade developed into an elite slasher and at times looked like the best player in the NBA and is the only player in franchise history to play an integral part of every single Miami Heat championship season. He has become synonymous with the franchise and his name is plastered all over the franchise statistical records: ranked 1st in scoring, assists, steals, games played, minutes, FG made, and FT made. In fact, the only category that Wade falls outside of the top-5 is 3-pointers made. Needless to say, his three championship rings, eight All-NBA selections, and 13 all-star appearances has cemented Wade as the greatest player in Miami Heat history.
Although James only spent four quick seasons in Miami, it’s hard to argue that he is not one of the most important players in the franchises’ history. Those four seasons resulted in four straight Finals appearances and back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013. James’ also secured two of his four MVP trophies while in Miami, four All-NBA selections, four All-Defensive selections, four All-Star appearances and won 12 out of a possible 22 Player of the Month awards over that four-year stretch. That is a First Ballot HOF worthy resume if it was spread over his entire career, but James did it in just four seasons which is why many believe that LeBron hit his apex as an individual talent while he was down in South Beach. Remarkably, despite his short tenure, James ranks fourth in points scored for the franchise and second in playoff points scored.
As the Miami Heat were trying to get off and running, Alonzo Mourning was the franchises’ first real star talent. Mourning became the franchises’ first ever All-Star in his first season with the Heat, carried the squad to the Eastern Conference Finals two years later and ultimately returned to the franchise in the early 2000s to come off the bench and help lead the Heat to their first championship ring. He was named an All-Star five times while wearing a Heat jersey, was selected to both All-NBA and All-Defensive teams twice and collected two DPOY awards as well. When it comes to the Miami Heat record book, he currently sits second all-time in points, rebounds and still holds the franchise record for shots blocked in both the regular season and playoffs.
This one may come as a surprise to most, but there is a very simple reason why Shaq shows up on this list – without the Diesel, the Heat do not win their first NBA Championship in 2006. Given how huge that moment was for the franchise, Shaq has to be on this list. It is unfortunate how things deteriorated after his first two seasons, but his impact had a ripple effect that changed the organization forever. O'Neal currently ranks fifth in blocks and ninth in total rebounds for the Heat, in addition to first in field-goal percentage and third in points per game.
Although many would prefer Udonis Haslem’s name to be on this list, Shaq gets the nod due to the impact he had on the franchise as well as paving the way forward for the Miami Heat as a championship organization.