9) Chris Bosh
Bosh was the afterthought when the Heat signed LeBron James and resigned Dwyane Wade in 2010. He was a nice bonus that almost seemed like overkill. But when the Heat struggle the Boshtrich is usually the one to get the blame. He doesn’t rebound the way a big man should and his offense can disappear, but when you need a big basket in a close game more often than not Boshasaurus Rex comes through with a soft jumper. And once a year like clockwork when LeBron sits out Boshapalooza comes and he will hit a game winning three pointer.
8 ) Udonis Haslem
Time is the great punisher. It pains me to watch Udonis Haslem imitate a professional basketball player these days. Old age catches up to us all. So often the local announcer will watch Haslem take a shot and in anticipation of him hitting the jumper say “Udonis…”, but he can’t finish the catch phrase of “you did it.” because the ball clanged against the rim. There was a time when that shot was money and another time when his defense on Dirk Nowtitzki won the Heat a championship. Haslem’s greatest contribution came a couple years ago when the Indiana Pacers were inflicting cheap shot after cheap shot on the Heat. That’s when Sheriff Haslem stepped in and reminded Indiana nobody outthugs Miami and the Heat won three straight games.
7) Tim Hardaway
In 1997 only Michael Jordan was better than Tim Hardaway. Hardaway was once as quick as they came, but after knee surgery he had to change his game and he perfected the dumbest shot in the game, the fadeaway three pointer. He hit more game winners than games the Heat had won in previous seasons. The greatest point guard in Heat history is living out a most bitter irony as his son is now playing for the team he hated most, the New York Knicks.
6) Alonzo Mourning
For a long time Alonzo Mourning seemed a tragic figure. The center never seemed to enjoy himself and suffered brutal injuries. A broken bone in his face that required the above mask, a fight where he never landed a punch that earned him a suspension in a pivotal playoff game against the New York Knicks which the Heat lost without him, and then finally when the Heat had all the proper pieces kidney failure that forced him to miss multiple seasons and eventually required an organ transplant. But finally in his sporting life some good luck fell. After leaving the Heat for the New Jersey Nets, Zo came back to the Heat when the team was stacked. His energy and defense backing up Shaq helped the Heat win that first championship where in the clinching game 6 he had 5 insane blocks in only 14 minutes of play. My favorite story is where before an important playoff game he and Shaq went to Wade’s house at 3 in the morning dragged him out of bed and drove him around town emphasizing how much they needed him to play his best game. Also noteworthy is in retirement Zo attends all the important Heat road playoff games in a suit and tie sitting next to Pat Riley looking like his bodyguard.
5) Glen Rice
A sentimental choice. When I was a kid (and even as an adult) Glen Rice had the prettiest shot I ever saw. I aspired to have his smooth shooting touch even if mine was more reminiscent of Bill Cartwright’s. I read he learned to shoot so purely, by going out to the courts at night and practicing. Under his logic if you could sink them without seeing, it would be easy in a lit gym. It made sense to me. Bonus points for Glen Rice being the only man on this list who slept with a vice-presidential candidate and no it wasn’t Dick Cheney.
4) Steve Smith
He only played on the Heat for three years until he along with Grant Long were shipped to Atlanta in the worst trade in Heat history that netted us Kevin Willis (a shoo-in if I ever make a list for my ten least favorite Heat players). The radio announcer liked to say Smitty makes pretty and he had an esthetically pleasing game with his no look passes, hesitation dribbles, and accurate shooting, but he makes the list just for being a cool guy. When I was 14 on a summer Saturday night with some friends in Coconut Grove we saw Steve Smith walk into a Hooters for dinner. My buddies and I followed him in and even though we didn’t have breasts, push up bras, or orange hot pants he took the time to talk to us, shake our hands, and thank us for being fans.
3) Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade confuses me. His first three seasons it seemed he never took a bad shot, now more often than not I find myself cursing at his shot selection. But looking at the stats his field goal percentage is now markedly better. Perhaps it is all in perception. When Wade entered the league he was as humble as they came. He played hard every second and while making a shot upside down that shut the door on the hated Detroit Pistons made me utter the words, “I have never been this happy in my life.” Wade has grown more surly and lazy in his old age. Often not running back on defense to instead bitch to the refs about a foul call they missed. But like I do for Elvis I’ll choose to remember Wade for his glory years.
2) Pat Riley
Kind of a cheat. Pat Riley was not technically a player for the Heat. Unless you spell the word, playa. Before Pat Riley the franchise was a joke that had only one winning season in its seven year history. Since Riley took over as coach and president the team has had 16 winning seasons out of a possible 19. As a coach he brought fire, brimstone, and passion. As president he turned Kevin Willis into Tim Hardaway, Lamar Odom and Brian Grant into Shaquille O’Neal, and gave up nothing to get LeBron James. It is debatable whether or not he is the greatest professional basketball coach of all time (in my biased head he surely is), but without a doubt he is the greatest recruiter in professional basketball history.
1) LeBron James
It was once said no one has been as good at anything as Michael Jordan is at basketball. You can not say that any longer because LeBron James is better. Every game he does something I have never seen before. Whether it is a behind the back pass from out of bounds to an impossible to catch alley oop which he somehow slams home to the come from behind shot block. Every game he plays is an event and 80 years from now Heat historians will be calling these the golden years.