All-Time Miami Heat Team

The Heat are a young team, having been around since just 1988-1989, but they’ve had a host of incredible players wear their jerseys. From Rony Seikaly to Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade to Tim Hardaway, we’ve compiled a list of the greatest Heat players ever to form the All-Time Miami Heat Team. These players were selected after considering their Heat production (statistics from other teams don’t count; sorry, Shaq), longevity with the team, and what they represented for the Heat in general. 

Starters

PG – Tim Hardaway 

After making a name for himself with his smooth jumper and flashy handles in Golden State, Tim Hardaway was traded to the Heat in 1995-1996 and stayed until the 2000-2001 season. He and Alonzo Mourning are the two that powered the Heat into the national consciousness and helped them battle the Knicks in some epic 1990’s playoff series. 

Hardaway brought a sense of style and cool to a Heat team that was looking for an identity as they emerged from their expansion years, and his killer crossover made for some sexy highlights. He made two All-Star teams and three All-NBA teams (it’s rare to receive more All-NBA than All-Star nods, but fan voting can be wacky) with the Heat and even came in fourth in MVP voting in 1997. 

SG – Dwyane Wade 

When you think of the Heat, you think of Dwyane Wade. Wade is Mr. Miami. He was part of the highly touted 2003 NBA draft class, and immediately transformed the Heat from laughing stock to serious player. His epic takeover of the 2006 NBA Finals in just his third season is one of the greatest championship performances of the modern era (stats: 34.7 pts, 7.8 rebs, 3.8 asts, 2.7 stls, 1.0 blks per game), and it had some wondering early on if Wade would be the best player from the 2003 draft.

Flash later teamed up with fellow draftees LeBron James and Chris Bosh to form one of the greatest NBA trios ever and pave the way for the player empowerment era. A 13-time All-Star, he was a defensive force who also led the league in scoring once. Dwyane Wade became one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People, won three championships, hit dozens of monster shots, created a slew of amazing celebrations and highlights, and owns a bevy of individual awards. 

Father Prime has more than twice as many points with the Heat as the next closest player (Alonzo Mourning). He leads the team in games, minutes, field goals and attempts, free throws, assists, and steals, and he is second in blocks and rebounds. He’s widely cited as the third- or fourth-best shooting guard of all-time (depending on how you feel about Jerry West), but he stands alone, peerless, amongst his fellow Heat luminaries.

SF – LeBron James 

Although a member of the Heat for just four years, LeBron took Miami to the Finals four times, winning twice, and reinvigorated a dormant Miami sports crowd. You couldn’t go anywhere in South Florida during those years without hearing LeBron talk, and for good reason. James came into the peak of his powers both mentally and physically while with Miami, and he turned them overnight into a franchise that could steal any free agent or work any trade.

He won back-to-back MVPs (and back-to-back Finals MVPs) and routinely showed off his abilities as the league’s best offensive AND defensive player. His impact on the game off-the-court may have been even greater as he created a new playbook to let players control their own destinies. You might’ve hated LeBron, but it’s impossible not to acknowledge him as the league’s most singular force of nature during his Heat days.

PF – Udonis Haslem 

No Heat player besides Wade is as well-loved as Udonis Haslem. Born, raised, and schooled in Florida, Haslem entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2003, the same year as the Wade draft. A sneaky secret of the Wade-Haslem teams is that Haslem hit just as many clutch shots as Wade (almost always from his preferred mid-range spots on the baseline or at the elbow). Although his stats don’t jump off the page, his physical defense, locker-room leadership, and imposing, take-no-crap attitude have allowed him to become the league’s oldest active player by several years.

With 20 seasons in Miami, UD’s just behind Kobe and Dirk for longest-tenured players with one team. He’s the Heat’s career leader in rebounds and second behind Wade for minutes and games played. The UDominator’s lockdown defense on Dirk Nowitzki (Dirk was just 13-42 with Haslem as the primary defender in that series) was a key reason for the Heat’s surprising win against the Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals.

He’s the Godfather of Miami Heat basketball, so much so that the Heat have essentially paid him to be an on-the-bench assistant coach for the last seven seasons. When people talk about Heat culture, they’re really talking about the environment and ethos that Udonis Haslem created and shepherded through multiple generations of Heat teams. I mean, the man literally has a tattoo of the state of Florida on his back!

There’s no way he can’t be a starter on the All-Time Heat team.

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C – Alonzo Mourning 

Before there was Wade and Haslem, Mourning was the guy that embodied Heat basketball. A Hall of Fame induction, five All-Star appearances, and two All-NBA nods while with the Heat emphasize how good the big man was during the peak era of NBA centers. Night in and night out, Zo would go to war with Shaq, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, and Patrick Ewing (especially Patrick Ewing!), and he’d often emerge victorious.

Zo’s kidney problems (he received a transplant that allowed him to continue his career in 2002-2003, but he was never the same afterwards) cut his prime short, but his peak is wildly underappreciated by casual NBA fans. He twice led the league in blocks despite being a somewhat undersized center at just 6’10”, won Defensive Player of the Year twice, and came in second in MVP voting in 1998-1999 while averaging an eye-popping 3.9 blocks per game. His second stint in Miami, this time as a defensive-minded backup to counterbalance Shaq’s offensive skills, led to a championship in 2006. 

An image of a sneering, flexing Zo was the image of the 90’s Heat, and along with Tim Hardaway, he helped put Miami on the basketball map. More importantly, however, his ability to overcome adversity has inspired countless others.  

Bench Players 

PF – Chris Bosh 

The third wheel of the Heatles, Bosh’s impact on the court was never fully appreciated. He was ahead of his time as one of the best defensive big men in the league at switching out on guards and causing chaos on the perimeter. He paved the way for the modern defensive big and is almost single-handedly responsible for the plaudits that we give to players like Anthony Davis and Bam Adebayo for their versatile defensive abilities.

Bosh sacrificed his individual numbers for team success and willingly gave up touches and shots by spacing out to the perimeter and allowing Wade and LeBron to drive to the hoop. He was one of the first stretch-fours to transition into being a stretch-five, and he was by far the best jump shooter on the Heat’s starting unit. Bosh’s versatility would’ve aged like fine wine in a league that increasingly catered to his strengths, but he sadly had his career cut short in 2016 at the tender age of 31 due to a blood clotting issue. 

Bosh’s legacy for the Heat was cemented with his incredible performance in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. He famously had the rebound and assist on the game-tying Ray Allen three-pointer, but few people remember that Bosh absolutely smothered Danny Green’s last second chance at winning the game in OT on Chris’s second of TWO jump-shot blocks in the extra period. Just like his entire Heat career, Bosh’s contributions in that game were overshadowed but absolutely essential to Miami’s success.

C – Shaquille O’Neal 

Shaq was larger than life, and his arrival in Miami (traded for a collection of Heat vets) signaled that Pat Riley was pushing all his chips into the pot. People think of Wade as being the dominant force on the Heat, and he did get there after his legendary 2006 NBA Finals performance. But Shaq was second in MVP voting for the whole league his first year in Miami while proving he was still an unstoppable force in the paint. Although he spent just three and a half seasons in Miami, he really was the harbinger of Miami’s arrival as a big-time player amongst the league’s elite franchises.

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SF/PF – Jimmy Butler 

It feels like Jimmy and the Heat were made for each other. His story with Miami is still unfolding, but he’s already led the Heat to one surprise Finals appearance in the bubble, where a rash of injuries may have swung the odds against Miami. Butler’s unselfishness and dedication to defense (plus an ability to score at will despite no real three-point shot) make him the unquestioned leader of the current Heat team. Butler guards the best player on the other team one-through-four and is equally as flexible on the offensive end. He’s constantly in the chatter for down-ballot MVP votes (when healthy) and has been All-NBA both of his full years in Miami, with a third berth possible this year. 

C – Bam Adebayo 

The latest in a long line of successful Heat centers that stretches back to Seikaly, Bam is the perfect do-everything big man for the modern NBA. Pat Riley has anointed him the successor to Udonis Haslem as keeper of the Heat culture, and it’s easy to see why. He’s turned himself into a sniper from mid-range, he’s a nifty passer, and he might be the best isolation defender in basketball. Adebayo has gotten better every year and leaves it all out on the floor each and every night, and Heat fans should look forward to Bam highlights for years to come.

PG/SG – Goran Dragic 

The Dragon was supposed to be the third star in the Heat’s post-LeBron title plans, but Chris Bosh’s health issues unfortunately ruined the Heat’s chances to be a true contender. That said, Dragic quickly became a fan favorite for his strong drives, lefty layups, and clutch performances. Despite moving to a bench role for the 2019-2020 bubble season, Dragic was often the best offensive player for the Heat that season, and his injury was a key factor in the Heat’s eventual loss to the Lakers in the Finals.

C – Rony Seikaly 

The Heat started off as an expansion team in 1988-1989, and their first important move was the drafting of Rony Seikaly with the ninth pick. The first Lebanese-born player in the NBA quickly became the premier baller on the Heat and won Most Improved Player in just his second season, when he led the Heat in scoring. 

Rony led the Heat to the playoffs in just their fourth season in existence, where they lost in 

the first round to Jordan’s Bulls. Although he’s long since been passed in the franchise record books, older Heat fans will never forget Seik’s work as the face of the early-years Heat. New fans can appreciate him in a different way – he’s become a chart-topping DJ since his retirement and regularly performs at some of the biggest music festivals in the world. 

SG/SF – Glen Rice 

A key piece in the trade for Alonzo Mourning, Glen Rice provided the shooting and scoring spark that the early-90’s Heat desperately needed. He teamed with Seikaly to power the Heat to two unlikely playoff appearances, and showed off the shooting touch that would make him a future three-time All-Star for Charlotte. Rice is responsible for many of the Heat’s best early memories.

Honorable mention: 

  • Eddie Jones (bucket-getter who bridged the gap between the Zo/Hardaway teams and the Wade era) 
  • Jason Williams/Mario Chalmers (point guards for championship teams) 
  • Hassan Whiteside (big presence on the boards and in the paint for the post-LeBron Heat) 
  • Mike Miller (integral shooter for the LeBron championship years) 
  • Shane Battier (prototypical 3-and-D player on Finals-winning teams) 
  • PJ Brown (rock-steady defender for the 90’s Heat) 
  • Ray Allen (for The Shot alone) 
  • Jamal Mashburn (silky scorer on the Zo/Hardaway teams) 
  • Lamar Odom/James Posey (one-hit wonders that didn’t have enough Heat tenure to crack the list) 
  • Grant Long (hard-nosed big man for the early-90’s Heat) 
  • James Jones (CHAMP) 
  • Steve Smith (shooter in the Heat’s early days) 
  • Kevin Edwards (leading scorer in the Heat’s inaugural year deserves some love) 
  • Dan Majerle (Thunder Dan!) 
  • Duncan Robinson/Tyler Herro (dynamic young shooters for the Heat’s current iteration)

Michael Shearer is an NBA obsessive who writes to answer the questions he has about the league. You can follow him @bballispoetry. He also is a contributing writer for Fansided at Hoops Habit and writes a free NBA analytical newsletter at basketballpoetry.com that goes out every Tuesday and Friday.

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Michael Shearer is an NBA obsessive who writes to answer the questions he has about the league. You can follow him @bballispoetry. He also is a contributing writer for Fansided at Hoops Habit and writes a free NBA analytical newsletter at basketballpoetry.com that goes out every Tuesday and Friday.

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