Grant Long, a 6'8" power forward for a total of 15 NBA seasons, was an original member of the Heat, although not part of the starting five that first night in 1988. Born in Wayne, MI on March 12th, 1966, he attended nearby Romulus High at the prep level, and played his collegiate basketball at Eastern Michigan University. He played four seasons, and as a senior averaged 23 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Miami made him a second round selection prior to their first season, with the 33rd overall pick.
As a rookie, Long led the Heat with 82 games, starting in his final 73 appearances. He shot 48.6% in 29.7 minutes per game, with 11.9 points (team third), 6.7 rebounds (team third), 1.8 helpers, and 1.5 steals (team second) for the 15-67 club. He collected 14 double doubles, and finished in double figures 52 times. He also led the NBA with 337 personal fouls. On January 30th, in a 105-98 loss to the Golden State Warriors, he scored 24 points with 14 rebounds and three assists. He scored 14 points with six rebounds and a season high six rejections on February 7th as the Heat dropped one to the Utah Jazz, 96-77. In a 107-104 overtime win against the Houston Rockets on April 8th, he scored a season and team high 30 points with 13 rebounds.
1989-90 would see Long start 31 times, appearing in 50 contests off the bench. He played 22.9 minutes per game, averaging 8.5 points on 48.3% shooting, with five rebounds (team fourth), 1.2 assists, and 1.1 steals (team third) per game. He scored 10 or more points 31 times, with six double doubles, helping the Heat to an 18-63 record (Miami lost in the only game in which he did not appear). On November 14th, in a 101-99 victory over the Houston Rockets, he scored 11 points with six rebounds and a season high five steals. In a 122-114 win over the Orlando Magic on December 8th, he scored 22 points on nine-of-15 shooting, with six rebounds and three steals. He scored 16 points on eight-of-12 shooting with 14 rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench in the season finale, a 130-109 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Long started in 66 of his 80 appearances in 1990-91, scoring 9.2 points on 49.2% shooting in 31.4 minutes per game. He also averaged 7.1 boards (team second), 2.2 assists (team fifth), and 1.5 steals (team third) per game. He totaled 13 double doubles and 35 games in double figures in points. In a 134-119 win over the New Jersey Nets on February 6th, he scored 12 points with 14 rebounds and a season high five steals. He scored 21 points with 15 boards on February 28th, in a 100-98 win against the Detroit Pistons. Two days later, he drained nine-of-12 field goal attempts for 22 points with 10 rebounds in a 109-103 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. On March 14th, in a 125-121, two-overtime loss to the New York Knicks, he collected a season high 20 rebounds, scoring 10 points. Miami went 24-58, a marginal improvement from the first two seasons.
1991-92 would see Long achieve statistical high-water marks in most offensive categories, excepting rebounds. He started in all 82 Miami games, averaging 14.8 points (team third), 8.4 rebounds (team second), 2.7 assists (team fifth), and a team leading 1.7 steals in 37.4 minutes per game. He had 26 double doubles, shooting 49.4% from the field with 65 games in double figures. In a three game span from March 22nd through the 27th (all wins), he totaled 83 points on 29-of-44 shooting with 35 rebounds, six assists and six steals. Miami earned their first trip to the playoffs, going 38-44 before losing three straight to the Chicago Bulls. Long reached double figures in each game, totaling 37 points with 15 rebounds.
In 1992-93, Long started 62 games, appearing in 76 overall. In 35.9 minutes per game, he scored 14 points (team fourth) on 46.9% shooting. He also made 7.5 rebounds (team second), 2.4 assists (team fifth), and 1.4 steals (team second) per game. Long helped Miami to a 32-44 record while in the rotation, finishing with 17 double doubles and 53 games with 10 or more points. In a 102-100 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 23rd, he scored 18 points with 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Three days later, in a 93-86 win against the San Antonio Spurs, he put up 25 points with 17 rebounds. He scored a season high tying 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting with 10 boards on April 23rd, in a 121-120 overtime win against the Washington Bullets. The Heat went 36-46, missing the playoffs.
Long spent his last full season in South Beach in 1993-94, playing 31.9 minutes per game over 69 contests, with 59 starts at power forward. He shot 44.6% from the floor, with 11.4 points (team fourth), 7.2 rebounds (team second), 2.5 assists (team fourth), and 1.3 steals (team second) per game. He scored 10 or more points 46 times, with 10 double doubles. Miami went 37-32 with Long, and 5-8 without him. In a 126-124 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on January 18th, he scored 18 points with 13 rebounds. He scored 22 points on seven-of-10 shooting on March 1st, also collecting 12 rebounds in a 110-102 triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks. In a 100-86 win over the Knicks on April 5th, he scored 15 points with 17 rebounds. Miami's 42-40 record was good enough for the eighth seed, where they lost in five to the Atlanta Hawks. Long appeared in four contests, averaging 12.3 points and 4.5 rebounds.
After two games in Miami to start the 1994-95 season, the Heat traded him with Steve Smith and a draft pick (Joe Vogel) to the Hawks for Kevin Willis and another draft pick (Walter McCarty). He played 161 games for Atlanta, later appearing with the Detroit Pistons (105 games), the Hawks for a second time (50 games), the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies (174 games), and the Boston Celtics (42 games). He currently finds employment as a color analyst for the Oklahoma City Thunder. On Miami's all-time leaderboard, he ranks fifth with 14,859 minutes, ninth with 5,473 points, fifth with 3,281 rebounds, 11th with 1,002 assists, second with 666 steals, third with 1,699 personal fouls, and 10th with 226 blocked shots.
All-Time HEATline: Seven seasons, 472 games, 31.5 minutes, 11.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks, 13.7 PER, 31.6 win shares.