Miami's eighth season would see the team post a 42-40 record (one game better than the ninth-place Charlotte Hornets) and earn another eighth-seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Chicago Bulls were ready and waiting, and defeated the Heat in three straight games by an average of 23 points.
33 Alonzo Mourning 1289.7
Mourning, a 6'10", 240 lb. center and power forward from Chesapeake, Virginia, was born on February 8th, 1970. After dominating at the High School level with Indian River in his hometown, he played four seasons of college ball with the Georgetown Hoyas. The Hornets chose him in the first round of the 1992 NBA Entry Draft with the second overall selection, and enjoyed three very productive seasons out of him before the Heat made him part of the team via trade just before the 1995-96 season.
Mourning totaled 1,623 points for the Heat in his first season in Miami, more than double the next highest scoring threat on the team. He started in each of his 70 appearances at center, totaling 2,671 minutes, 727 rebounds (218 offensive), an NBA-sixth 189 blocks, and 70 steals, leading the team in each of the categories. Although not a distributor by trade, he also ranked fourth on the club with 159 assists.
Mourning made 563-of-1076 shots from the field (.523), including nine-of-30 from beyond the arc. He made 488-of-712 foul shots to clock in with a 68.5% shooting success rate on the freebies, ranking fifth in the NBA in free throws made and second in free throws attempted. He led the team in per-game totals with 38.2 minutes, an NBA-seventh 23.2 points, an NBA-eighth 10.4 rebounds, and an NBA-fifth 2.7 blocks. He also pitched in with 2.3 helpers and 1.0 steals per game.
Mourning's racked up 42 double-doubles through the season for Miami, with eight games of 15 or more rebounds and 11 games where he totaled five or more blocked shots. On November 28th, in a 111-89 Heat win over the Dallas Mavericks, Mourning played 40 minutes and made 16-of-21 shots from the field to finish with 38 points, along with 10 rebounds. On February 3rd, in a 100-99 loss to the Boston Celtics, he scored 45 points with 11 boards, seven blocks and three steals, making 19-of-34 shots from the field in 42 minutes. On March 29th, he scored 50 points for the Heat, making 17-of-24 from the floor and 16-of-17 from the stripe, along with a dozen rebounds and two blocks in a win over the Washington Bullets, 112-93.
Miami made the playoffs, and were summarily destroyed by the Chicago Bulls. Mourning did score 30 points with eight rebounds in game three, but it wasn't nearly enough to delay the juggernauts' inexorable march to another title. Mourning would be back.
7 Rex Chapman 526.1
Chapman, also sometimes called "The Boy Wonder," was a 6'4", 185 lb. guard from Bowling Green, Kentucky. Born on October 5th, 1967, he came by his talent by inheritance, as son of former ABA talent Wayne Chapman. Chapman graduated from Apollo High in Owensboro, KY, and entered the NBA draft after two seasons with the Kentucky Wildcats. The Charlotte Hornets selected him in the first round of the 1988 NBA Entry Draft, with the eighth overall selection. After three and a half seasons each with the Hornets and with the Washington Bullets, Washington traded him with Terrence Rencher to the Heat for Ed Stokes and Jeff Webster.
Chapman would average 14.0 points per game over 56 games. He started 50 times for Miami at shooting guard, and drained 289-of-679 shots from the field, a .426 shooting percentage. He also represented a legitimate outside shooting threat, making 125-of-337 shots from outside to rank first on the team in both categories. His .371 success rate however ranked him slightly below the .379 team average. He also made 83-of-113 (.735) free throws. Chapman also averaged 3.0 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game.
Chapman's 786 points for the season ranked him second on the club, and his 166 assists was third most on the team. He also pitched in with 145 total rebounds (only 22 offensive), 45 steals, and 10 blocked shots.
On January 27th, Chapman scored 29 points, making seven-of-13 three-pointers and dishing out six assists in 46 minutes of a 102-85 regulation win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. He scored 23 in 38 minutes on February 1st, with six helpers as the Heat set down the Philadelphia 76ers, 124-104. Chapman was nearly automatic from long distance on February 23rd, making nine-of-10 from outside on his way to 39 points in 40 minutes as Miami dropped the 48-5 Chicago Bulls, 113-104.
Chapman was a free agent after the season, having just completed a four-year, $8 million deal. The Heat released him on July 17th during the offseason, freeing him up to sign with the Phoenix Suns, with whom Chapman would spend the next four seasons with.
Chapman remained with the Suns, first as part of the scouting department then later as Director of Basketball Operations. He also served as an on-air personality for TNT, CBS, Turner Broadcasting, and Cox7 Arizona between 2004 and 2014. He got into a little bit of "almost" trouble in 2014, when he was arrested for suspicion of retail theft and trafficking goods and property worth $14,000, but charges were not filed.
12 Bimbo Coles 512.6
Coles averaged 12.8 points for the Heat over 52 starts at point guard, with 5.7 assists, 3.9 boards, and 1.2 steals in 36.2 minutes per game. He made 231-of-559 shots from the field for a 41.3% shooting success rate, making 63-of-172 three-pointers and 139-of-173 free throws (.366 and .803, respectively).
Coles' totals were shorter than you would expect for a full seasons' work due to the fact that he was traded with Kevin Willis to the Golden State Warriors for Chris Gatling and Tim Hardaway on February 22nd. He did stick around long enough to rank highly on Miami's full season leaderboard in most cumulative offensive categories, including 664 points (fourth), 201 rebounds (sixth) and 63 steals (second). He led Miami with 296 total assists for the season.
Here's the Heat taking on the Kings, pre-trade.
Coles racked up three double-doubles for the Heat before he left the team, getting into double-digit scoring 38 times. Statistically, his best three games of the season came consecutively just after Thanksgiving. On November 30th, he scored 26 points with eight dimes and four rebounds in 38 minutes in a win against the Detroit Pistons, 118-107. The next day, he played 49 minutes opposite the Charlotte Hornets and scored 26 points with eight assists and six rebounds as the Heat came away with an overtime 108-101 victory. Two days after that, he scored 18 points with 10 assists in a 112-94 rout of the Toronto Raptors.
After his trade, Coles played three and a half seasons with the Warriors (181 games), later spending court time with the Atlanta Hawks (80 games), the Cleveland Cavaliers (115 games), and the Boston Celtics (14 games) before closing out his playing career back where it all started in Miami for 22 games in 2003-04. He's currently the fitness director at Greenbrier Physical Therapy & Fitness in Lewisburg, WV.
40 Kurt Thomas 454.8
Thomas, a native of Dallas, Texas, was born on October 4th, 1972. A 6'9", 230 lb. power forward and center also had a variety of interesting nicknames, including "Crazy Eyes," "Dirty Kurt," and later, "Mid-Life." After playing his high school ball at Hillcrest in Dallas, he attended TCU for four seasons before getting drafted by the Heat in the first round of the 1995 NBA Entry Draft, with the 10th overall selection.
Thomas started in 42 of his 74 games at power forward during his rookie campaign for the Heat, totaling a team-third 666 points with a team-second 439 rebounds (122 offensive), 47 steals, 46 assists, and 36 blocked shots. He made over half of his field goal attempts, clocking in at 50.1% by making 274-of-547 overall. He was not a good long distance or free throw shooter, making 118-of-178 from the foul line (.663) and missing his only two three-pointers. He was also fifth in total minutes, playing 1,655 overall.
Thomas would average just 9.0 points per game for Miami, which only ranked 10th on the Heat, along with 5.9 rebounds, which only ranked fifth. He was also not a significant stat-horse for assists (0.7 per game), steals (0.7 per game), or blocks (0.5 per game). He made the cumulative statistical leaderboard for Miami only because he played in more games than most, his 74 appearances ranked him second on the team only to long-time bench presence Keith Askins.
Thomas' best game of the season would see him score 29 points with 15 rebounds in a 110-90 loss to the Sacramento Kings on December 10th, one of his eight double-doubles for the season. On December 30th, he scored 22 points with seven rebounds and two steals as the Heat topped the Los Angeles Clippers by a 105-96 final. On March 12th, in a 125-118 win against the Dallas Mavericks, Thomas shot nine-of-10 from the field for 22 points, along with 10 rebounds.
Thomas would remain with the Heat for another season, appearing in 18 games in 1996-97 for Miami until he was traded to the Mavs with Sasha Danilovic and Martin Muursepp for Jamal Mashburn. Thomas would only appear in five games for Dallas, in 1997-98, but later had significant playing time with the New York Knicks (530 games). From 2005-06 through the end of his playing career, he gave meaning to the term "journeyman," playing with the Phoenix Suns (120 games), the Seattle SuperSonics (42 games), the San Antonio Spurs (107 games), the Milwaukee Bucks (70 games), the Chicago Bulls (52 games), and the Portland Trail Blazers (53 games) before rounding out his career back with the Knicks in 2012-13 (39 games) at the age of 40.
10 Tim Hardaway 451.3
Hardaway, already an established NBA All-Star by the time he joined the Heat, was born on September 1st, 1966 in Chicago, Illinois. A 6', 175 lb. three-time all star point guard, he attended high school in Carver High, in Chicago before playing four seasons of college ball with UTEP. The Golden State Warriors chose him with their first round pick in the 1989 NBA Entry Draft, with the 14th overall selection. Hardaway played for the Warriors until they traded him to the Heat on Februrary 22nd, with Chris Gatling for Bimbo Coles and Kevin Willis.
Hardaway took control of the Heat's offense right away, representing an upgrade over Bimbo Coles. The team went 17-11 with him in the lineup (as opposed to 25-29 without him). He had double-doubles in over half of his games, racking up 15 over Miami's stretch run. On March 5th, he scored 19 points in 28 minutes for the Heat, with 10 assists, six steals, and six rebounds as Miami shellacked the Minnesota Timberwolves by a 113-72 final score. In a 121-97 victory over the 42-22 Houston Rockets on March 16th, he scored 28 points with 15 assists and eight rebounds in 39 minutes. On April 10th, he scored 29 points with 11 helpers, four boards and two steals in 40 minutes of a 116-95 win over the Charlotte Hornets.
Hardaway averaged a team-second 17.2 minutes per game over 1,047 total minutes, and 10.0 assists. He also pitched in with 3.5 rebounds and a team-best 2.1 steals. From the field, Hardaway wasn't scared to launch from long distance, making 53-of-147 from three-point land (.361), 164-of-386 overall (.425), and 101-of-123 from the stripe (.821).
Here's a look at how Pat Riley engineered the first of several winning machines in Miami.
30 Billy Owens 439.3
2 Keith Askins 375.0
42 Kevin Willis 331.9
15 Chris Gatling 284.7
42 Walt Williams 251.3
35 Kevin Gamble 185.6
5 Sasha Danilovic 178.9
20 Pete Myers 119.9
14 Tony Smith 110.0
22 Voshon Lenard 108.3
23 Tyrone Corbin 82.2
24 Danny Schayes 68.8
15 Terrence Rencher 56.6
54 Ron Grandison 28.8
25 Jeff Malone 17.6
21 Stacey King 4.4
28 LeRon Ellis 2.3