The five most important players in the history of the Miami Heat

The Miami Heat has groomed many of basketball’s greatest players. Some are more famous than others, but they all have one thing in common; a deep respect for the team that catapulted them to stardom. If you want to know who these players are, what makes them special, or simply need a gauge on your NBA betting odds, here are the five most influential players in Heat history.

5. Tim Hardaway

One of only two Heat players to have their number retired from ‘active duty,’ Timothy Duane Hardaway played for five different teams in total over the course of his career. His time with the Miami Heat was arguably the biggest highlight of his career.

Hardaway was a five-time NBA All-Star as well as an All-NBA Team selection. He also won a gold medal during the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. His signature move, the crossover dribble, was so influential that analysts took to calling it the UTEP two-step, in recognition of Hardaway’s time with the UTEP Miners, where he played for four years before his move to the NBA in 1989.

Hardaway’s NBA career began with the Golden State Warriors, where he was selected as the 14th overall pick of the 1989 NBA Draft. His time with the Warriors led to three consecutive All-Star Games, though a knee injury would end that particular streak. Hardaway was traded to Miami Heat midway through the 1995-96 season, which ultimately led to his greatest career achievement; the all-time record of 806 3-point field goals, the greatest tally in Miami Heat history.

4. LeBron James

Nicknamed “King James,” LeBron Raymone James is often considered one of the greatest players in NBA history. He is the only NBA Finals MVP to have won three championships with three different franchises. Altogether, James has competed in ten NBA Finals and holds several notable records.

Numbering 17 in total, James holds the record for the most All-NBA Team selections. He is the youngest player to score 30,000 points and has been ranked as the best player in the NBA by a number of sports news outlets, such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Often compared to Michael Jordan, James is easily one of basketball’s most talented players.

James joined the Miami Heat in 2010. His move was met with much controversy at the time, mainly due to his status as a free agent. That controversy would lead to a revolution in the transfer market, ushering in a new age of empowerment for pro players. In his second season for the Miami Heat, James won his first NBA championship. His second championship victory came the very next year. In both seasons, he earned league MVP and Finals MVP.

LeBron James and Dwayne Wade together on the NBA Championship Heat. (AP File photo)

3. Alonzo Mourning

For the majority of his 15-year NBA career, Alonzo Harding Mourning played for the Miami Heat. His defensive prowess was legendary, earning him several accolades over the course of his career.

Mourning has won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award twice, once in 1999 and then again in 2000. He has also been selected twice for the NBA All-Defensive Team. In 2009, he became the first Miami Heat player to have their number retired, followed shortly after by Tim Hardaway.

Mourning was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2010, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014, and the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2019. Unfortunately, shortly after being awarded a gold medal during the 2000 Summer Olympics, Mourning was diagnosed with kidney disease, which would significantly impact his time at the Miami Heat. Without him, the Heat struggled to achieve any notable success, evidenced by the fact that they missed the playoffs entirely in his absence.

2. Shaquille O’Neal

Regarded as one of the greatest centers of all time, Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal is one of basketball’s most famous players. During his 19-year career in the NBA, O’Neal played for six different teams and won four NBA championships. He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1993 and won his first NBA Final in 1995.

Amongst other notable achievements, O’Neal has 15 All-Star Game selections, three Finals MVP awards, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections. He is one of only three players to have won an NBA MVP, an All-Star Game MVP, and a Finals MVP in the same year. He also ranks third overall in all-time field goal percentage.

2014 led to O’Neal’s induction to the College Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2016 O’Neal became a Naismith Hall of Fame member, while in 2017, he was elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame. From 2004 to 2008, his time with the Miami Heat led to several All-NBA First Team selections and multiple MVP awards. He is one of a few players to have two numbers retired in his honor, one by the Miami Heat and the other by the Los Angeles Lakers.

1. Dwayne Wade

Dwayne Tyrone Wade spent most of his 16 years in the NBA with the Miami Heat. He won three NBA Championships during his career, all of which were earned with the Heat. Wade’s performances alongside the likes of LeBron James led to four consecutive NBA Finals, winning back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.

Wade’s third season for the Heat led to the team’s first NBA Championship, after which he was named the 2006 NBA Finals MVP. He was the captain of the US basketball team in 2008, when they won the gold medal in Beijing, China, at the 2008 Summer Olympics. For the 2008-09 NBA season, Wade was the highest-scoring player in the NBA. In 2010, he was selected as the league’s All-Star Game MVP.

Wade was also a 13-time All-Star, an 8-time All-NBA Team member, and an All-Defensive Team selection on three separate occasions. He is Miami’s all-time leader in several performance statistics, including points scored, games played, and shots taken.