There are bigger names in the competition like Golden State’s Klay Thompson, Oklahoma City’s Paul George and Washington’s Bradley Beal. And Ellington is one of just two players, along with Clippers forward Tobias Harris, in the eight-man field who has yet to participate in the contest at the NBA level.
MEXICO CITY – For one night it was like old times for Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat.
Bosh, in Mexico City for the NBA games on a promotional tour with Marriott, embraced his former coach, Erik Spoelstra, before the Heat’s 101-89 victory over the Nets; was introduced as a Miami Heat legend during the game and following the game he video-bombed the postgame interview between Fox Sports Florida’s Jason Jackson and the Heat’s Justise Winslow.
Spoelstra, who said he keeps in contact with Bosh, appeared touched by the moment.
“He looks good,” Spoelstra said. “His family, his kids are doing well. I love CB. He’s Heat family for life but man it’s strange. You see him and it’s like you go back to 2012 just like that. You realize how fast times goes by in this league.”
Bosh received a loud ovation from the crowd of 19,777 at Arena Cuidad de Mexico Saturday when he was introduced along with Alonzo Mourning and Glen Rice.
The Heat waived Bosh, 33, on July 4, after an NBA doctor ruled in the Heat’s favor and agreed with the organization’s belief that Bosh’s blood clot issues are considered a career-ending illness. The move cleared his contract from the Heat’s salary cap.
But Bosh, who has not played a game since Feb. 9, 2016, recently said on a podcast he is not ready to close the door on his NBA career just yet.
“That’s still there in front of me,” Bosh said on The Full 48 podcast. “The window is still open. Once I close the doors, it’s closed. I don’t open it back up. That’s kind of me as a human being. That’s just one of the things about me. … But yeah, for me, I don’t close anything until I’m officially done. So until that day, I will definitely let everybody know when that day comes, if it comes soon.
“I’m still, of course, work out and everything. I’m still doing work on the court. That’s very important to me. I’m still keeping my options open for the future. I know a lot of people don’t know that, but don’t write me off just yet.”
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.
MIAMI – Andy Elisburg was a 20-year-old intern with the Miami Heat in 1988 when managing partner Billy Cunningham said he needed some chores to be done around the office.
“No problem,” Elisburg said, “I’ll get one of my guys to do it.”
Cunningham looked at Elisburg: “You have people? You’re an intern.”
Elisburg epitomizes where the Heat have come in 30 years. Starting as an intern for public relations director Mark Pray, Elisburg, who turns 50 next month, was a student at St. Thomas University when he was hired to do, well, everything, and started working his way up to senior vice president of basketball operations/General Manager.
When Elisburg worked with numbers nearly 30 years ago it was those he’d type into a bulky computer to be included in the media guide. Today when he works with numbers it’s negotiating multi-million dollar contracts.
The Heat start their 30th season Wednesday with their season opener in Orlando. Elisburg is one of a handful of people who have been with the organization continuously for the three decades, including broadcaster Tony Fiorentino (who was an assistant coach on Ron Rothstein’s original staff), Eric Reid and Jose Paneda.
Back then, the Heat had about 20 employees, not including players. Today, that number is close to 200.
Only a handful of people, including partners Cunningham and Lewis Schaffel, Rothstein, assistant coach Dave Wohl, director of player personnel Stu Inman and trainer Ron Culp, had worked in the NBA.
For the others it was on the job training.
“Those first games it was really crazy because people really had no idea what to do,” Elisburg said.
During the very first time out of the very first game at Miami Arena, Pray handed the partial box score to a runner with instructions to make copies and “give one to everybody.”
The runner suddenly stopped, looked back and wondered, “how am I going to make 15,000 copies for everyone in the building.”
Finally, he was told, “not everyone. … everyone on press row.”
“It was an incredibly rich and wonderful experience,” Elisburg said. “With the fans, we got a chance to experience NBA basketball and professional sports together. It was very much kind of trial by error in learning what works and what doesn’t and what we had to do.”
Elisburg recalls the entire staff rolling 15,000 posters the night before that opening game.
And although Rothstein had spent five seasons as an assistant coach in Atlanta and Detroit, moving over one seat on the bench was a major adjustment for him, too.
“Anytime you get your first head coaching job the reality is you are a little naïve,” Rothstein said. “The real world hasn’t hit you yet. You’re really full of yourself. You really are. I knew that we weren’t going to be good and I knew that we would lose a lot of games. I had no idea it would be that tough.”
Everybody grew together. … through 17 consecutive losses to start their inaugural year, 33 wins the first two years combined, the first coaching change in 1991 when Kevin Loughery replaced Rothstein and their first taste of the postseason in 1992.
“The philosophy of the Heat from the beginning was we’re going to build through the draft which is exactly what we did,” Rothstein said. “We actually were the first of the expansion teams to make the playoffs, Year 4, unfortunately that was after I was gone. I felt our first three years really set the foundation. Year 4 didn’t happen in a bubble.”
Those drafts netted Rony Seikaly, Grant Long, Glen Rice and Steve Smith, the heart of that first playoff team.
Fast forward 30 years from Nov. 5, 1988, the night of the first ever regular season game for a South Florida NBA franchise, to now where three championship banners hang in the rafters of the AmericanAirlines Arena.
But that does not tell the whole story about where this franchise has come, an ascent similar to the one taken by the intern in the public relations department who now holds the title of General Manager.
“You never know when you start something up that it becomes your home and your family,” Elisburg said. “You don’t think 30 years from now we’re going to be here.
“One of the things that is really special when you are a part of something like this is you’re building something beyond you. We’ve built a foundation what will stand the test of time, a history that people will be part of. It’s been special being part of all the things we’ve achieved and the struggles.”
Miami Heat celebrate 30th anniversary in NBA: The Palm Beach Post looks back
Since 2008, Miami has had just three first-round picks and with mixed success. And when the Heat selects 14th in the June 22nd NBA draft, that player he will be the 21st taken in the first round in franchise history. The list includes at least one future Hall of Famer, a proud Army veteran, three players named Smith and others who never wore a Heat uniform.
We ranked them all, from Dwyane Wade to Tim James and everyone in between.
1. Dwyane Wade, F, No. 5 overall, 2003
Taking Wade in the same draft that included his future teammates LeBron James (No. 1) and Chris Bosh (No.4) forever changed the direction of the franchise. Wade is a 12-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer. He’s averaged 23.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists in his career and helped bring the Heat three titles and play in five Finals in his 13 seasons in Miami.
2. Glen Rice, F, No. 4 overall, 1989
Rice was the Heat’s first true star although he didn’t totally blossom until after being traded to Charlotte in 1995 for Alonzo Mourning. Rice played 15 years, the first six in Miami. He was a three-time All-Star with the Hornets. He averaged 18.3 points and finished in top 10 in scoring five times.
3. Steve Smith, G, No. 5 overall, 1991
Smith bookended his 14-year career in Miami, playing his first three years and his final 13 games in 2004-05 with the Heat. He was named to the All-Rookie team in 1992 and then traded in 1994 to Atlanta in the deal that brought Kevin Willis to Miami. He went on to become an All-Star for the Hawks. Smith averaged 14.3 points and 5.4 assists.
4. Caron Butler, F, No 10 overall, 2002
Butler came to the Heat one year before Wade and was named to the All-Rookie team. He played 14 years, two with Miami before becoming a two-time All-Star with Washington. He averaged 14.1 points and 5.0 rebounds.
5. Rony Seikaly, C, No. 9 overall, 1988
The first draft pick in franchise history, Seikaly was the Heat’s starting center for six seasons before being traded to Golden State. He played 11 seasons, averaging 14.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and finishing in the top 10 in rebounding three times.
6. Michael Beasley, F, No. 2 overall, 2008
Beasley would be No. 1 on the list of first-round disappointments. The highest pick in Heat history was traded after two years, a casualty of the Big 3 coming together. He was first-team All-Rookie and has played nine years (2016-17 with the Bucks) averaging 12.6 points, including 19.2 for Minnesota his third year. Returned to Miami in 2013 for two years.
7. Justise Winslow, F, No. 10 overall, 2015
Winslow is in the still-to-be-determined category after two seasons, his last limited to 18 games because of injuries. He could eventually climb or fall on this list. Has struggled with his shooting (40 percent), otherwise, the Heat have high hopes Winslow can be a solid starter on a contending team.
8. Kevin Edwards, G, No. 20 overall, 1988
Edwards was a solid late first-round pick. He was taken after Seikaly in the team’s first draft and played 11 seasons, his first five in Miami where he started about half his games at shooting guard and was second-team All-Rookie. He averaged 10.9 points in his career.
9. Kurt Thomas, F, No. 10 overall, 1995
An underrated player for most of his career, Thomas played 18 seasons in the NBA, his first two with Heat. He averaged 8.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and was known as a tough defender who did the dirty work. He had his best years with the Knicks from 1999 to 2005.
10. Willie Burton, F, No. 9 overall, 1990
Burton was the first high pick who did not live up to expectations with fans wanting more from a skilled, athletic player. He played eight years in the NBA, half of those with the Heat. Burton averaged 10.3 points, with his best season coming in Philadelphia (15.3 average) after being waived by Miami.
11. Dorell Wright, F, No. 19 overall, 2004
The Heat drafted Wright out of high school and he sat on the bench for most of his first two years. He lasted six years in Miami, starting 56-of-211 games, before signing with Golden State in 2010 and then having his best season (16.4 points). He played 11 seasons.
12. Jason Smith, C, No. 20, 2007
One of four players drafted by the Heat in the first round still in the league, Smith has forged a nice career as a backup center, averaging more than 77 games his last three years, 74 last season in Washington. Was a draft night trade to Philadelphia for Daequan Cook.
13. Harold Miner, G, No. 12 overall, 1992
A major disappointment after coming into the league with the nickname ‘Baby Jordon’ because of his similar style to Michael Jordan. Played just four years (three with Heat), averaging 9.0 points. His career highlight was being two-time winner of the Slam Dunk contest.
14. Khalid Reeves, G, No. 12 overall, 1994
Another disappointing career from a player drafted 12th overall. Reeves played one season in Miami (six years total) before being part of the Rice-Mourning deal. He averaged 7.8 points in his career.
15. Charles Smith, G, No. 26 overall, 1997
Smith played 11 games with the Heat before being part of the trade that sent Ike Austin to the Clippers for Brent Barry. He played 142 games in a five-year NBA career, averaging 5.1 points.
16. P.J. Hairston, F, No. 26 overall, 2014
Hairston was traded to Charlotte the day after the draft for Shabazz Napier. He played 111 games in two seasons and was waived by Houston before the start of the 2016-17 season. He averaged 6.0 points.
17. Dave Jamerson, G, No. 15 overall, 1990
Jamerson had a three-year career in the NBA (90 games) after being traded on draft night to Houston along with Carl Herrera for Alec Kessler.
18. Arnett Moultrie, F, No. 27 overall, 2012
Moultrie played two seasons with Philadelphia (59 games) after being traded on draft night for Justin Hamilton and two second round picks.
19. Wayne Simien, F, No. 29 overall, 2005
Simien played his entire two-year NBA career with the Heat where he even started two games in his rookie year. He averaged 3.3 points in 51 games.
20. Tim James, F, No. 25 overall, 1999
The Miami native and UM product played just four games with the Heat and 43 games in his three-year NBA career but his life is so much more. He served in Iraq after enlisting in the U.S. Army in 2008 and eventually being promoted to Corporal. Now retired, James was honored by the Heat before a game in 2011.
MIAMI – The Heat’s 8-3 record in February was among the best in the NBA, making Erik Spoelstra a strong contender for Eastern Conference Coach of the Month.
But Spoelstra isn’t the only member of the organization up for a monthly award. Guard Goran Dragic once again is in the conversation for player of the month.
Dragic, who was nominated in January for the Eastern Conference Player of the Month that went to Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, has been Miami’s best player this season and February has been his best month.
Dragic, 30, averaged 22.5 points and 5.0 assists while shooting 53.8 percent, including 45.7 percent on 3s in 11 games. Dragic has never been a player of the month during his nine seasons in the league, although he has been honored twice as the player of the week, in April of 2012 while with Houston and February of 2013 with Phoenix.
Those numbers, though, may not be enough to beat out Cleveland’s LeBron James, who stepped up his offense with teammate Kevin Love out for about half the month.
James averaged 25.9 points, 10.6 assists and 7.2 rebounds while shooting a sizzling 63.7 percent, 56.8 percent from 3. The league, though, might be tired of etching James’ name on this award considering his has won it 33 times, 12 of those while with the Heat, to go along with 57 player of the week awards. The next closest: Kobe Bryant with 17 player of the month awards.
James is the last Heat player to capture the award, in March 2014.
Thomas had another solid month with a 30.2 average and 5.7 assists while shooting 43.5 percent. Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan averaged 28.5 points and 2.5 assists on 45.7 percent shooting.
Heat players besides James, to win player of the month include Glen Rice, Alonzo Mourning, Lamar Odom, Dwyane Wade (6) and Shaquille O’Neal.
MIAMI – Heat president Pat Riley and legends Alonzo Mourning and Glen Rice had a little fun Friday while helping to renovate the homes of two U.S. Military veterans.
The three took part in the mannequin challenge, the newest craze sweeping the country. The video shows Mourning and Rice frozen with shovels in their hands while Riley is looking over them, standing on a porch, one arm resting on a column and a water bottle in his other hand.
Riley, Mourning and Rice spent their Veterans Days working alongside members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade to help renovate the homes of two local veterans from Miami: Rickey Grant, a former First Class Airmen of the U.S. Airforce; and Tymothi Coffee, a U.S. Navy veteran.
The Heat funded the renovations for both homes that will include the installation of a new roof, flooring, toilets, light fixtures and appliances as well as interior/exterior painting and new landscaping.
Grant and his wife, Iris, live in the Brownsville neighborhood of Miami. The only time Grant moved away was to serve in the U.S. Air Force as a First Class Airmen during the Vietnam War.
Coffee is a U.S. Navy veteran from Opa-Locka. He served in the U.S. Navy Reserves as a guard for six years and was involved in Operation Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom during which time he earned the National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.