MIAMI – The 1992 draft will be will always stand out for having two future Hall of Famers – centers Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning – taken with the first two picks, one of just three times this has happened in league history.
But on the 25th anniversary of that draft, it also will be remembered as one with a very heavy Miami Heat presence, despite the team having just one first round pick.
Of the top nine players selected in that draft, eight played for the Heat, including the top five picks.
O’Neal, the No. 1 pick, came to Miami in the summer of 2004 and Mourning, No. 2, was the centerpiece of Pat Riley’s first blockbuster transaction, joining the Heat from Charlotte in 1995. The two then helped bring Miami its first NBA title in 2006.
Power forward Christian Laettner (No. 3 overall) was signed in 2004 and was a teammate of both Shaq’s and Mourning’s from March of 2005 (when Mourning rejoined the Heat) through the playoffs that season, shooting guard Jim Jackson (No. 4) signed in 2001 and played one season in Miami and forward LaPhonso Ellis also signed in 2001 and played two years with the Heat.
The No. 6 pick, Tom Gugliotta, managed to play 13 years – and for seven teams – without ever wearing a Heat uniform.
The list then picks up with the next three picks making a stop in South Florida. Small forward Walt Williams (No. 7) spend the 1995-96 season with the Heat after being acquired from Golden State, shooting guard Todd Day (No. 8) was signed in 1997 and played one season in Miami and forward Clarence Weatherspoon (No. 9) came to Miami as a free agent in 1999 and remained for two years.
Mourning, who is tied to the Heat more than another other player from the class, was a teammate at one time of all seven players.
“Crazy, isn’t it?” he said. “It is amazing.”
The list, though, goes on. Miami selected Harold Minor with the No. 12 pick that year. Minor, though, was burdened by the unfortunate nickname of ‘Baby Jordan’ because his style reminded some of Michael Jordan’s, and he lasted just four seasons in the league but not before twice winning the Slam Dunk contest.
One other first rounder played for Miami as Don MacLean, the 19th pick, saw action in just eight games in 2000-01. But three second-picks wore a Heat uniform and made solid contributions.
P.J. Brown (No. 29) signed as a free agent in 1996 and after four years in Miami remains one of the top power forwards in franchise history. Center Matt Geiger was taken by the Heat with 42nd pick that year and played three seasons in Miami and Sasha Danilovic, the 43rd pick, was acquired from Golden State in 1995 and spent two seasons as the Heat’s primary starting shooting guard.
In all, 13 players from that draft wore at Heat uniform and Mourning was a teammate of 10 of them and traded for one of them, coming came to Miami in the deal that included Geiger.