Miami’s 13th NBA season would see the Heat go 50-32, winning at least 60% of their games for the fifth consecutive year, but for the first time in five seasons not win the Atlantic Division crown. Miami’s record was just good enough to finish second in the division, six games behind the Philadelphia 76ers. Miami couldn’t last through the first round of the postseason, however, bowing out in a three game sweep at the hands of the Charlotte Hornets. At least it wasn’t the Knicks. Four of Miami’s Five Stars were enjoying their first full season with the southernmost NBA franchise.
14 Anthony Mason 1069.3
Mason, a 6’7”, 250 lb. front-courter (he could play the three, the four or the five (never at the same time, that would be a record...)) was born in Miami, Florida on December 14th, 1966. After starring at the prep level out of Springfield Gardens High in New York, he played four collegiate seasons with Tennessee State University. The Portland Trail Blazers chose him in the third round of the 1988 NBA Entry Draft, 53rd off the board. The Blazers had originally acquired the draft pick in a prior trade with the Golden State Warriors, for Kermit Washington.
Mason never made it into an NBA contest for the Blazers, although the team did own his rights for just over one calendar year. They released him during the 1989 offseason, where the New Jersey Nets picked him up. He appeared in 21 games for the Nets, only playing 108 minutes in total but averaging 12.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per 36 minutes. The Denver Nuggets acquired him for the 1990-91 campaign, but played him even less (three games). During the 1991 offseason, the New York Knicks plucked him off the NBA’s refuse pile and enjoyed five productive seasons in which Mason averaged 9.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists over 395 games. He then spent four seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, averaging 13.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in 236 contests.
Miami got Mason by a trade on August 1st, 2000, when Charlotte packaged him with Ricky Davis, Dale Ellis, and Eddie Jones for PJ Brown, Rodney Buford, Tim James, Jamal Mashburn and Otis Thorpe.
Mason’s first and only season in Miami would see him earn top Heat honors with the First Star, starting in all 80 of his overall appearances at power forward. He led the team with a career-high 1,290 points and 770 rebounds (169 offensive), pitching in with a team-third 248 assists, a team-fourth 80 steals, and a team-fifth 25 blocks in a club record and NBA-fourth 3,254 minutes. Despite his minutes being a club record, it was only the second most minutes in a season for his career - he played an NBA best 3,457 minutes in 1995-96.
Mason played 40.7 minutes per night, and averaged 16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.0 steals. He shot .482 from the field, making 460-of-954 shots from the floor and 370-of-474 from the stripe for a career best .781. He was named to his first and only career All Star game, and finished 15th in the season ending vote for MVP.
Mason totaled 36 double-doubles through his season, scoring 20 or more points 24 times and grabbing 15 or more rebounds nine times. On March 4th, in a 91-79 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mason scored 23 points with 10 rebounds, going 10-for-14 from the field. March 17th would see him score 18 points on eight-of-12 shooting, with 12 rebounds, five helpers, and three steals as the Heat set down the Vancouver Grizzlies, 95-81. On April 11th, he played 45 minutes of a 102-97 win over the Boston Celtics, with 23 points on eight-for-11 shooting, seven boards, and five assists.
After averaging a 13.3 GameScore through the regular season, Mason was a big part of why Miami couldn’t win a single victory in the postseason. His GameScore average dropped way down to 2.3 as he scored a total of 16 points with nine rebounds and four assists over the entire three-game set.
After the season, Mason, who was already 34-years-old, signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. He spent two seasons there, totaling 147 games with 8.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per contest. Mason suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 48, and died a few days later on February 28th, 2015.
44 Brian Grant 923.0
Grant, known alternately as “B.G.,” and “The General,” was a 6’9”, 254 lb. front courter from Columbus, Ohio. Born on March 5th, 1972, he played four seasons of college hoops with the Xavier Minutemen, scoring 14.8 points with 9.3 rebounds and 1.2 helpers over 116 contests. The Sacramento Kings made him a first round pick in the 1994 NBA Entry Draft, with the eighth overall selection.
After three seasons each in Sacramento (182 games, 13.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 blocks) and with the Portland Trail Blazers (172 games, 10.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists), Grant was traded to the Heat as part of a three-team deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Miami lost Chris Gatling, Clarence Weatherspoon, and a draft pick (Brendan Haywood) and received Grant.
Grant earned 5.0 defensive win shares for Miami in 2000-01, which ranked ninth in the NBA. He was one of three Heat players to appear in all 82 games (along with Fifth Star Bruce Bowen and AC Green), starting 79 games at varying front court positions. He was second on the team with 2,771 minutes played, and scored a team-second 1,250 points with a team-second 501 rebounds, 101 assists, 60 steals, and a Heat best 71 blocked shots.
Grant sunk 484-of-1010 shots from the field (.480) and 282-of-354 free throws (.797), and averaged 15.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and just under a block per game. He had 31 double-doubles, scoring in double-digits in 71 games and grabbing 15 or more rebounds five times. On November 3rd, in an 83-79 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, Grant scored 33 points with 16 rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Five days later, in a Heat 87-81 victory over the
Oklahoma City Thunder Seattle SuperSonics, he shot 13-for-21 from the field for 30 points with 21 rebounds. On February 27th, he scored 26 with seven boards and six blocks to defeat the Washington Wizards, 103-95.
Like Mason, Grant’s productivity dropped off during the three-game postseason, although not quite as sharply. His PER dropped from 11.0 to 6.6 per game, with 10.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and a single assist over the series with Charlotte.
6 Eddie Jones 841.2
Jones, known alternately as “Steady Eddie,” or simply “E.J.,” was a 6’6”, 190 lb. shooting guard from Pompano Beach, Florida. Born on October 20th, 1971, he played three seasons of prep level ball with the Temple Owls, scoring 16.0 points with 6.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists over 92 contests. Based on that, the Los Angeles Lakers selected him in the first round of the 1994 NBA Entry Draft with the 10th overall choice.
Jones played his first four and a half NBA seasons with the Lakers, twice making the All Star team and averaging 15.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.1 steals over 314 games. He then played for the Charlotte Hornets for a season and a half, making his third All Star squad and scoring 19.2 points with 4.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.8 steals per game over 102 appearances.
During the 2000 offseason, the Hornets traded Jones with Ricky Davis, Dale Ellis and Mason to the Heat for PJ Brown, Rodney Buford, Tim James, Jamal Mashburn, and Otis Thorpe. He started in 58 of his 63 regular season appearances, averaging a team-high 17.4 points, a team-fourth 4.6 rebounds, a team-fourth 2.7 assists, a Marlins-high 1.7 steals, and just a tick under a block per game, playing a team-second 36.2 minutes per night.
Jones shot .445 overall from the field, making 388-of-871 field goals while leading the team in three-point percentage with a .378 mark, sinking 90-of-238. He also drained free throws at an .844 rate, with 228 made out of 270. His cumulative statistics suffered due to his occasional unavailability, although he managed to rank fourth on the team with 1,094 points, 171 assists, and 292 rebounds. He was second on the team with 58 blocks and led the club with 110 steals.
Jones scored 20 or more points for Miami in 25 games. On December 22nd, he scored 31 points with eight rebounds, three dimes and three steals in a victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers, 103-95. The very next night, he again scored 31, with five rebounds, three assists and three steals as Miami defeated the New Jersey Nets, 86-80. Six days later, Jones was starting to show a pattern, scoring 31 points on 12-of-19 shooting, with five rebounds and two assists in a Heat 98-91 win against the Washington Wizards. He racked up one of his two double-doubles for the season on Groundhog’s Day, putting up 24 with a dozen boards, five helpers, and three steals as the Heat set down the Atlanta Hawks, 91-80.
Unlike the rest of the team, Jones play was steady into the postseason, and would see his average GameScore go from 12.7 to 12.9 as he averaged 19 points, six rebounds, 2.3 assists and a steal per game.
10 Tim Hardaway 819.5
Hardaway, appearing in the five stars for the sixth straight season with the Heat, started in each of his 77 overall appearances at point guard. He shot 189-for-517 from three-point range, ranking third in the NBA in makes and second in attempts for a .366 success rate. He made 408-of-1042 shots overall (.392), along with 145-for-181 from the foul line (.801).
Hardaway played 33.9 minutes per game, totaling a team-fourth 2,613 minutes on the floor. He was third on the team with 1,150 points, an average of 14.9 per game. His 483 assists (6.3 per game) led the team. He also pitched in with 204 rebounds (2.6 per game), 90 steals (1.2 per game), and six blocked shots.
Hardaway totaled six double doubles through the season, scoring 20 or more points 20 times. On November 4th, in an 84-82 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, he scored 23 points with 11 assists and a steal. On November 6th, in his best game of the season (by GameScore), he scored 24 points with 10 helpers and two steals as the Heat defeated the Celtics walking away, 112-86.
After putting up an average GameScore of 10.7 through the season, Hardaway played a total of 36 minutes against the Hornets in the postseason, scoring a total of five points with nine assists and eight turnovers. On August 22nd, the Heat traded Hardaway to the Dallas Mavericks for a draft pick (Matt Freije) and a trade exception.
Hardaway lasted half a season in Dallas, appearing in 54 games and averaging 9.6 points, 3.7 assists, and 1.8 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per game. He later played with the Denver Nuggets (14 games) before closing out his playing career in 2002-03 with the Indiana Pacers for 10 games.
Hardaway went into broadcasting after retirement for a time with TNT, and later got into some hot water over some homophobic remarks on a radio show:
Well, you know I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.
Later that day, he apologized for his remarks, and clearly didn’t realize the amount of backlash he would receive. He suffered a lot of professional recrimination from his actions, getting removed from the All-Star Weekend activities and dismissed from his position with the CBA team, the Indiana Alley Cats.
As a post-script to the incident, Hardaway was one of the first people to publicly support Jason Collins after he came out. He was later the symbolic first signer of a petition to put a proposed amendment to the Florida State Constitution to allow same-sex marriage. Later, Hardaway’s son, also Tim Hardaway, but with a Jr. at the end of his name, was drafted by the New York Knicks. He currently plays for the Atlanta Hawks.
12 Bruce Bowen 401.3
Bowen, a 6’7”, 185 lb. small forward from Merced, California, was born on June 14th, 1971. He played four seasons of college ball with Cal State-Fullerton, graduating with the Class of 1993. After going undrafted, he played overseas in France and in the CBA with the Rockford Lightning. He signed with the Heat in 1996, got waived, resigned, and eventually got his first NBA action, playing one minute against the Houston Rockets on March 16th. He registered a block, and didn’t play again for the Heat, until much later.
Bowen spent the next two seasons with the Boston Celtics, playing 91 games and averaging 4.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 19.8 minutes per game. After 42 games with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1999-00, he was part of a three team trade with the Chicago Bulls and the Golden State Warriors. Chicago waived him on February 18th without him having appeared, and the Heat signed him for the duration of the season for the veteran’s minimum of $733,000. He scored 5.1 points with 2.2 rebounds in 27 games for Miami to close out that season.
In 2000-01, Bowen was one of three players on the Heat to appear in every game, and started 72 of them at small forward. He averaged 7.6 points with three rebounds, 1.6 assists, and a steal per game. The only rate categories in which he appeared in Miami’s top five were minutes, in which he ranked fifth with 32.7 minutes, and blocked shots, where he ranked fourth with 0.6 per game.
Bowen did rank fifth on the squad with 623 total points, 245 rebounds, and 132 assists, and third with 2,685 minutes on the floor, 83 steals, and 53 blocks. He made 211-of-581 shots overall (.363), along with 103-of-307 three-pointers (.336) and 98-of-161 free throws (.609). His player efficiency rating (PER) was well below league average as a result, and would see him clock in with a figure of 8.1. It wasn’t a fluke, either. Over his 873 game NBA career, he rated an 8.2 in the category.
Even so, Bowen wasn’t without his moments. On November 28th, he scored a season-high 20 points with three rebounds, a block and a steal as the Heat dropped a 102-101 squeaker to the Milwaukee Bucks. By GameScore, his best effort of the season was on December 30th, when he totaled 17 points with two boards, two helpers, a steal and a block while Miami defeated the Detroit Pistons, 110-102. Bowen scored 12 points with two rebounds, two steals, two assists and two blocks in Miami’s three game loss to the Charlotte Hornets to open the postseason.
During the offseason, Bowen signed a seven year deal to play with the San Antonio Spurs for just over $21,000,000. He would win three rings with the Spurs, playing in every game but three over his final six seasons with that organization. He averaged 6.4 points with three rebounds and 1.3 assists over 630 games. He currently works as an analyst for ESPN.
25 Anthony Carter 354.1
45 AC Green 294.7
9 Dan Majerle 237.9
33 Alonzo Mourning 160.8
5 Eddie House 138.4
23 Cedric Ceballos 121.9
4 Duane Causwell 33.2
21 Ricky Davis 24.9
7 Don Maclean 22.9
35 Todd Fuller 13.8
13 Jamal Robinson -2.1