With the Heat just days away from the start of their 30th NBA season, now is a good time to take a closer look at the players who helped make this organization what it is today. Whether it’s based off of pure talent, off-the-court impact or just longevity, there are a lot of names that helped the Heat over their first 29 seasons of existence.
In celebration of the Heat’s first three decades, we bring you the Palm Beach Post’s top 30 players in team history …
1. Dwyane Wade: He’s now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he’ll forever be remembered for his 13 seasons in Miami. Wade built his Hall of Fame legacy and won three NBA championships with the Heat in 2006, 2012 and 2013. He is the organization’s all-time leader in games played (855), minutes played (30,560), points (20,221), assists (4,944) and steals (1,414). Wade’s No. 3 Heat jersey will be hanging from the rafters at AmericanAirlines Arena one day.
2. LeBron James: The time spent with the Heat was short, but his impact was huge. In four seasons with Miami, James was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player twice and he also won two NBA championships. James is the most talented player to ever wear a Heat jersey, as he averaged 26.9 points on 54.3 percent shooting to go with 7.6 rebounds and 6.7 assists during his Heat career. He left Miami for Cleveland in 2014, but his time with the Heat is unforgettable.
3. Alonzo Mourning: Acquired from the Hornets in a 1995 trade, Morning served as the centerpiece of the Pat Riley-coached Heat. Mourning averaged 16.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocks, and won two NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards during his 11 seasons in Miami. The Heat advanced to the playoffs in nine of those 11 years, with Mourning finally winning a championship toward the end of his playing career in 2006. He became the first player in Heat history to have his number retired, when Miami honored his No. 33 jersey in 2009.
4. Shaquille O’Neal: When the Heat acquired O’Neal from the Lakers in a 2004 trade, the organization instantly turned into a legitimate title contender. With a young Wade by his side, O’Neal helped lead the Heat to their first NBA championship in 2006. The Hall of Fame center spent three full seasons and part of a fourth season in Miami, averaging 19.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks during his time with the Heat. Miami retired his No. 32 jersey last season.
5. Chris Bosh: Despite playing as the third option on the Heat’s Big Three teams, there’s no denying Bosh’s incredible talent. The 11-time All-Star helped Miami win two NBA titles in 2012 and 2013, averaging 18.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in 384 regular-season games spread out over six seasons with the Heat. But Bosh’s time with the organization was cut short due to recurring bouts with blood clots. He missed the entirety of the 2016-17 season after failing a preseason physical, and also sat out the second half of the previous two seasons due to blood clot issues.
6. Tim Hardaway: Before there was the Big Three, there were the fun Heat teams led by Hardaway and Mourning. Hardaway was a big part of those Pat Riley-coached teams in the 1990s, making the All-Star game in two of his six seasons with the Heat. The point guard, who was known for his crossover dribble, averaged 17.3 points, 7.8 assists and 1.5 steals with Miami.
7. Udonis Haslem: Based on basketball talent alone, Haslem probably doesn’t belong this high on the list. But when you consider how much the Miami native means and what he represents to the Heat organization, there’s no doubt that Haslem will go down as one of the most important players to wear the uniform and will very likely have his No. 40 jersey retired by the team. He’s won three NBA titles with the Heat and is the franchise’s all-time leader in offensive, defensive and total rebounds and also ranks among the Heat’s all-time leaders in games played (2nd), starts (2nd), minutes (2nd) and double-doubles (3rd).
8. Glen Rice: Taken by the Heat in the first round of the 1989 draft, he turned into one of the Heat’s first real stars. Rice spent the first six seasons of his NBA career in Miami and he left his mark. He averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals during his Heat career. Rice ranks among the Heat’s all-time leaders in points (3rd), 3-point field goals made (3rd) and minutes played (4th).
9. Hassan Whiteside: This Heat center continues to climb up this list. Whiteside signed with the Heat in 2014 after a tough start to his NBA career and has flourished in Miami. He’s averaged 14.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in three seasons with the Heat, and led the league in blocks in 2015-16 and rebounds in 2016-17. At 28 years old and with three seasons remaining on his current contract with the Heat, Whiteside still has time to make a case for an even better spot on this list.
10. Rony Seikaly: The first draft pick in Heat history turned into a very good one. Selected by Miami with the ninth overall pick in the 1988 draft, Seikaly averaged 15.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in six seasons with the Heat. He averaged a double-double in five of those six seasons, too. Seikaly ranks among the Heat’s all-time leaders in rebounds (3rd), points (6th), blocks (3rd) and minutes played (7th).
11. Goran Dragic: It cost the Heat two first-round picks and more, but trading for Dragic has paid off for the Heat. He’s averaged 17.2 points on 47.9 percent shooting from the field and 5.7 assists in three seasons with Miami, and he still has three seasons remaining on his current contract with the Heat.
12. Eddie Jones: The Pompano Beach native spent five full seasons and part of a sixth season with the Heat, with his first stint lasting from 2000 to 2005 and his second stint coming in the 2006-07 season. Jones averaged 16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 387 regular-season games (374 starts) with Miami.
13. Jamal Mashburn: Traded to the Heat in 1997, Mashburn spent four seasons in Miami. His best season with the Heat came in 1999-00, when he averaged 17.5 points and made 40.3 percent of his 3-point shots.
14. Steve Smith: Drafted by the Heat with the fifth overall pick in 1991, Smith had a very impressive 14-year NBA career. But he spent just three full seasons with the Heat, as he averaged 14.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists during his time in Miami.
15. Mario Chalmers: Doesn’t have the stats to justify a spot this high on the list, but you must dig deeper that numbers when it comes to Chalmers. He was the starting point guard on two Heat championship teams in 2012 and 2013, and is the only Heat rookie to start all 82 games in a season.
16. Grant Long: Before there was Udonis Haslem, there was Long. Known for his rebounding and defense, Long averaged 11.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 472 regular-season games for the Heat spread out over seven seasons.
17. Sherman Douglas: Only played two full seasons in Miami, but they were impressive. Douglas earned a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team after averaging 14.3 points and 7.6 assists with the Heat in 1989-90.
18. P.J. Brown: Paired with center Alonzo Mourning in Miami’s frontcourt, Brown was an important part of that era of Heat basketball in the 1990s. He averaged 9.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 284 regular-season games with Miami, and was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive second team twice as a member of the Heat.
19. Jason Williams: Was past his prime by the time he arrived to the Heat in 2005, but he still made an impact with 10.6 points and 4.9 assists in three seasons with Miami. Williams was also the starting point guard on the Heat’s 2006 championship team.
20. Brian Grant: Played 12 seasons in the NBA, four with the Heat before being dealt to the Lakers in July 2004 as part of the trade that brought Shaquille O’Neal to Miami. Grant, a fan favorite, averaged 11.0 points and 8.5 rebounds during his Heat career.
21. Bimbo Coles: Played 462 regular-season games (196 starts) over seven seasons and two different stints with the Heat. Coles, a point guard, averaged 8.7 points and 4.2 assists in Miami.
22. Dan Majerle: Known as “Thunder Dan,” Majerle was a big part of those Heat teams in the late 1990s that helped lift the organization into the spotlight. He averaged 7.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals in five seasons with the Heat.
23. Ray Allen: Made the biggest shot in Heat history and one of the biggest shots in NBA history when he hit a huge 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds remaining in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. The Heat went on to win the championship, and Allen averaged 10.3 points while shooting 39.8 percent from 3-point range in two seasons with Miami.
24. Voshon Lenard: Remembered as one of the top 3-point shooters in franchise history, as he ranks fifth among the Heat’s all-time leaders in 3-pointers made with 473. Lenard averaged 11.3 points and made 39.9 percent of his 3-pointers in five seasons with Miami.
25. Shane Battier: The Heat added Battier to their Big Three formula in 2011 and they went on to win back-to-back NBA championships in 2012 and 2013. Miami outscored regular-season opponents by 664 points with Battier on the court during his three-year Heat stint.
26. Keith Askins: Another Heat player who is remembered for his defense and toughness. Askins spent the entirety of his nine-year NBA career with the Heat, averaging 3.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 486 regular-season games.
27. Kevin Edwards: Spent the first five seasons of his NBA career with the Heat. Edwards averaged 12.2 points, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals with Miami.
28. Caron Butler: Drafted by the Heat with the 10th overall pick in 2002. Although he was a productive player with 15.4 points per game in his rookie season, his Heat stint lasted just two years as he was dealt to the Lakers in July 2004 as part of the trade that brought Shaquille O’Neal to Miami.
29. Kevin Willis: Averaged a double-double with 14.2 points and 10.0 rebounds in 112 regular-season games over two seasons with the Heat.
30. Lamar Odom: His Heat career lasted just one season, but it was fun. Odom averaged 17.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists on the 2003-04 Heat team that featured rookie Dwyane Wade.
Also receiving votes: Billy Owens, Mike Miller, Bruce Bowen, Luol Deng, James Posey, Rory Sparrow.
Miami Heat celebrate 30th anniversary in NBA: The Palm Beach Post looks back