This offseason, we will look into the Miami Heat's past into who made the team tick over the course of their now 28-season history. I'll be doing this via the same format as I have this past season, with the Five Stars series. I used individual GameScores from each contest, and the top five cumulative GameScores represent the Five Stars.
43 Grant Long 769.1
Long, born on March 12th, 1966 and known alternately in some circles as "The Take Charge Man," or as "The Human Vitamin," was a 6'8", 225 lb. power forward from Wayne, Michigan. Although he was the third player ever drafted by the Heat, he placed higher than the two selected above him in the inaugural Five Stars. After attending Romulus High School in Michigan, he played his prep ball for Eastern Michigan, and was chosen by Miami with the 33rd overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft, in the second round.
Long was the only Miami player to appear in every game all season, playing in all 82 games. He also led the team in free throws and free throw attempts, making 304-of-406 over the course of the season, easily leading the team with 337 personal fouls. His 976 points ranked him third on the team. He shot .486 from the field overall, making 336-of-692 field goals while missing all five of his three-pointers. He had 546 rebounds (240 offensive), 149 helpers, 122 steals, 201 turnovers, and 48 blocked shots.
Long's best game of the season was on April 8th, when he racked up one of his 14 double-doubles and scored 30 points on nine-of-15 shooting. He also drained 12-of-13 from the line, with 13 boards, two assists, a steal, a block and two turnovers before fouling out after 44 minutes on the floor. His efforts helped lead 13-60 Miami to a surprise 107-104 win over the Hakeem Olajuwon led 40-33 Houston Rockets despite 43 points from "The Dream."
2 Rory Sparrow 715.8
Sparrow, a 6'2", 175 lb. point guard from Suffolk, Virginia, was born on June 12th, 1958 and attended Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey. He joined the NBA initially as a fourth round pick of the New Jersey Nets, 75th overall out of Villanova. Before joining Miami, he played with the Atlanta Hawks, the New York Knicks, and the Chicago Bulls. He signed a free agent contract to play for the Heat just two days before their first ever matchup, for $275,000.
Sparrow, one of two players aged 30 or older when the Heat started play, started in 79 of his 80 overall appearances. He led Miami with 2,613 minutes on the floor, an .879 free throw percentage, and 429 assists. He scored exactly 1,000 points that season to rank second on the club, also ranking second with 18 three-pointers. Sparrow shot 444-for-982 from the field and 18-of-74 from deep, making 94-of-107 foul shots. He had 216 rebounds (55 offensive), 103 steals, 17 blocks, 204 turnovers, and 168 personal fouls.
Sparrow's best game of the season for came on March 10th, when he hit 13-of-18 shots from the field and both of his foul shots in 45 minutes of a double-overtime, 131-130 Heat (9-50) win over the Denver Nuggets (32-38). Sparrow also had nine assists and a steal, leading Miami to a win despite a 51 point night from Alex English and a 24 point, 17 rebound performance from Danny Schayes.
Sparrow would not appear in another Five Stars, although he did play another season with the Heat. He went on afterward to log time with the Sacramento Kings, the Chicago Bulls, and the Los Angeles Lakers. He eventually went to work for the NBA's league office as a manager of player programs, starting in 1994.
21 Kevin Edwards 696.1
Edwards was a 6'3", 190 lb. shooting guard from Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Born on the day before Halloween in 1965, he struck fear into opposing coaches due to his tenacity, durability, and versatility. After attending high school at St. Joseph in Cleveland, he went to DePaul University, and was Miami's second pick in the first round of the 1988 NBA draft, 20th overall.
Edward's efforts led to his eventual selection on the NBA's All-Rookie second team during his (and Miami's) first season. He played in 79 games in total, starting at shooting guard 62 times. He scored 1,094 points to lead the Heat, on 470-of-1105 (.425) shooting. He made 10-of-37 three pointers and sunk .746 of his free throws, going 144-for-193 from the line. He made 262 total rebounds, including 85 on the offensive boards, pitching in with a team-second 349 assists and a Heat-best 139 steals. He added 27 blocked shots, committed 154 personal fouls, and unfortunately led the club with 246 turnovers.
Edwards had three double-doubles over the course of the season, narrowly missing the mark on his best performance of the season on February 20th. He played 37 minutes for the 7-42 Heat against the 19-32 New Jersey Nets, scoring 34 points on 13-of-24 shooting. He went eight-for-nine from the line, with nine assists and six rebounds.
55 Billy Thompson 692.9
Thompson, known as the B.T. Express around some parts, was a 6'7", 195 lb. small forward from Camden, New Jersey. Born on December 1st, 1963, he went to Camden High School, then followed it up with a four year collegiate career at the University of Louisville. The Atlanta Hawks chose him in the first round of the 1986 NBA entry draft with the 19th overall selection. He was traded with Ron Kellogg to the Los Angeles Lakers for Mike McGee and Ken Barlow, then joined the Heat via the 1988 NBA expansion draft.
Thompson started in 58 of his 79 appearances for Miami in their first season, leading the team with 105 blocks and with 572 total rebounds, 241 of them picked off the offensive glass. He shot .487 from the field overall, hitting 349-of-716 shots and missing all four of his three-point attempts. He also drained 156-of-224 free throws, adding 176 assists, 56 steals, 189 turnovers, and 260 personal fouls with his 854 points.
Thompson earned 13 double-doubles that season, including on the night of his best performance, January 30th against the Golden State Warriors. He scored 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting and also made eight-of-10 foul shots for a season-high 30 points. He also had eight rebounds each on the offensive and defensive boards, along with five assists, three steals and a block in 43 minutes as the 4-36 Heat came up short to the 21-19 Golden State crew, 105-98.
4 Rony Seikaly 486.0
Seikaly was a 6'11" center from Beirut, Lebanon born on May 10th, 1965, and attended High School at "American School" in Athens, Greece. After playing his college ball with the Syracuse Orangemen, the Heat chose him with the ninth overall pick in the first round of the 1988 NBA entry draft.
Certain expectations were in play for Seikaly from the start as Miami's first ever draft selection, and his rookie season was not without it's share of head shaking play. Seikaly struggled with his free throw shooting throughout his career, but never more so than in his rookie season, when he made just 181-of-354 foul shots. He did sink 333-of-744 from the field, including one-of-four from outside for a total of 848 points (his lowest as a member of the Heat). He started 62-of-78 games for the Heat at center, and ranked second on the team with 204 offensive and 549 total rebounds. He added 55 assists, 46 steals, 96 blocked shots, 200 turnovers, and 258 personal fouls.
Seikaly had 18 double-doubles for the Heat, and collected 10 or more rebounds on 20 occasions. His best game was on January 10th, when the 3-28 Heat lost to the 19-14 Utah Jazz, 92-88. Seikaly made 12-of-16 shots overall and six-of-seven from the stripe for 30 total points, with just four rebounds. He also had two steals and a block in 40 minutes.
The first version of the Miami Heat was an eclectic bunch of unproven rookies and supposedly over-the-hill veterans, but they were our bunch of unproven rookies and over-the-hill veterans. The team only won 15 and lost 67, but we loved them anyway. Some of us still do. Check out some of the highlights below.
20 Jon Sundvold 396.2
31 Pearl Washington 325.0
40 Sylvester Gray 316.2
42 Pat Cummings 276.4
45 John Shasky 273.9
44 Scott Hastings 258.8
3 Anthony Taylor 94.5
11 Craig Neal 64.4
34 Todd Mitchell 62.4
10 Clinton Wheeler 54.1
10 Kelvin Upshaw 28.8
41 Dave Popson 3.1
Later this weekend, we will cast some light on Miami's second season, with two new faces and three familiar. Stay tuned every fourth day throughout the offseason for more on Miami's history. Let me know what you think - and what are some of your memories of the early seasons?