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Five Stars: 2001-02

Miami missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons in 2001-02.

Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat

In Miami’s 14th season, the Heat posted a 36-46 record to break a streak of six consecutive postseason appearances. They also finished under .500 for the first time since 1994-95, but incredibly, considering how slowly the Heat got up and running, it was just their seventh under .500 campaign. Their cumulative record clocked in at 534-582 after the close of the season. There were two first-timers in the Five Stars, and two making their last appearance (hint: it was the same two guys.)

First Star

6 Eddie Jones 1065.5

Eddie Jones was a 6’6”, 190 lb. shooting guard and small forward from Pompano Beach, Florida. Born on October 20th, 1971, he enjoyed three seasons of college ball with the Temple Owls, averaging 16.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists over 92 games. The Los Angeles Lakers selected him in the first round of the 1994 NBA Entry Draft, with the 10th overall choice.

Jones played four and a half seasons with the Lakers, twice making the All Star team and averaging 15.2 points with 3.8 boards, three assists and 2.1 steals per game over 314 appearances. He then spent a season and a half with the Charlotte Hornets, where he made his third All Star team and averaged 19.2 points with 4.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.8 steals over 102 games. The Hornets traded him with Ricky Davis, Dale Ellis and Anthony Mason to the Heat for PJ Brown, Jamal Mashburn, Otis Thorpe, Rodney Buford, and Tim James.

For Miami in 2001-02, Jones played in a career high and team-leading 81 games, starting at shooting guard in each of them. He led Miami with 1,480 points, an NBA-ninth 3,156 minutes on the floor, and with 117 steals, ranking third with 378 rebounds and second with 262 assists and 77 blocks.

Jones was Miami’s most consistent deep-range threat, leading the team with 382 attempts and an NBA-10th 149 makes for a much higher than NBA-average .390 shooting percentage. He also made 517-of-1198 overall from the floor and drained 297-of-355 from the foul line (.837). His per-game statistics ranked him nearly as high as his cumulative stats did. He led Miami with 18.3 points, 39.0 minutes, and 1.4 steals per game, while ranking second with 1.0 blocks, third with 3.2 assists, and fourth with 4.7 rebounds.

Jones scored over 20 points 38 times through the season, with an average GameScore of 13.2 a team-second 17.5 PER, and a Heat-best 10.5 Win Shares. On November 24th, in a 100-96 overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he played 48 minutes and scored 27 points with 13 rebounds for one of his two double-doubles for the season, with four blocks and five assists. On January 29th, he played another 48 minutes in another overtime game, this one a 100-94 win against the Denver Nuggets in which Jones scored a season-high 37 points with five rebounds, four steals, and four blocks. On February 15th, he played 45 minutes and scored 22 points with seven steals, six boards, and four helpers as the Heat defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, 90-88 in overtime.

Second Star

33 Alonzo Mourning 886.7

Mourning, who made Five consecutive Five Stars appearances to start his career with the Heat, missed the cut in 2000-01 due to focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a potentially life-threatening kidney condition which forced him to miss all but 13 games.

In 2000-01, Mourning returned to Miami’s starting lineup, starting at center in 74 of his Heat third-most 75 appearances through the season. He ranked second on the Heat with 2,455 minutes played and with 1,178 points, first with 632 rebounds and with 186 blocks, and also pitched in with 87 helpers and 27 steals.

Mourning shot .516 from the field, making 447-of-866 overall, along with 283-of-431 free throws (.657). He led the team with 2.5 blocks and 8.4 rebounds per game, ranked second with 15.7 points, and third with 32.7 minutes.

On December 7th, in a 98-94 win against the Seattle SuperSonics (just Miami’s third in 17 games to start the season), Mourning sunk seven-of-nine from the field for 21 points, along with 12 rebounds, five blocks and four assists. On January 8th, he made 11-of-16 shots to finish with 26 points and 14 rebounds as Miami defeated the New Jersey Nets, 104-95. Eight days later, in a 102-96 Miami win over the Los Angeles Lakers, Mourning made 12-of-17 for 28 points, with 11 rebounds, three blocked shots, and two helpers. Mourning totaled 26 double-doubles in total through the season, with 18 games where he scored 20 or more points and six in which he blocked five or more shots.

Mourning would miss the entire 2002-03 campaign due to his ongoing kidney problems before returning to the NBA with the Nets. After just 12 games, Mourning would retire from the NBA. But that’s not how this story ends.....

Third Star

1 Rod Strickland 700.2

Strickland was a 6’3”, 175 lb. back-courter from Bronx, New York. Born on July 11th, 1966, “Hot Rod” started for three seasons with the DePaul Blue Demons in college. In 87 contests, he averaged 16.6 points with 3.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game. The New York Knicks selected him in the first round of the 1988 NBA Draft, with the 19th overall pick.

Strickland played a season and a half with the Knicks, where he averaged 8.7 points, 4.1 assists, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in 132 contests. Before joining the Heat, he also spent significant time with the San Antonio Spurs (146 games, 13.9 points, 8.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 2.0 steals) the Portland Trail Blazers (312 games, 16.2 points, 8.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals), and the Washington Bullets / Wizards (304 games, 15.5 points, 8.9 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals). Just before the 2001-02 season, the Heat signed him as a free agent for $1,000,000.

Strickland started at point guard for the Heat in 64 of his 76 overall appearances, leading Miami with 463 assists, ranking third with 794 points and with 2,294 minutes, second with 82 steals, and also pitching in with 232 rebounds and 11 blocked shots.

Strickland made 316-of-714 shots from the field (.443) and 154-of-201 from the foul line (.766). He averaged 10.4 points, 6.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals. He totaled four double-doubles and scored 20 or more points six times. On February 23rd, he scored 18 points on nine-of-16 shooting, along with 14 assists in a 97-95 win over the Washington Wizards. On March 27th, in an 81-80 loss to the Toronto Raptors, he scored 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting, with eight assists. In a 96-88 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on April 7th, he scored 21 points on nine-of-14 shooting, with nine helpers and four boards.

During the offseason, Strickland signed on with the Minnesota Timberwolves (47 games, 6.8 points, 4.6 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals), later appearing with the Orlando Magic (46 games, 6.8 points, 4.0 assists, 2.6 rebounds), the Toronto Raptors (15 games, 4.7 points, 3.9 assists, 2.5 rebounds), and the Houston Rockets (16 games, 1.8 points, 2.4 assists, 1.7 rebounds). He is currently an assistant coach for the South Florida Bulls.

Fourth Star

44 Brian Grant 542.5

Grant made his second Five Stars appearance in his first two seasons with the Heat, playing in and starting 72 times at power forward. Although he only ranked fifth on the team with 9.3 points per game, he ranked second on the club with 8.0 rebounds. He made 286-of-610 field goals overall and 101-of-119 free throws.

Grant ranked fourth on the team with 2,256 minutes spent on the court, with 673 points, and 48 steals, with a team-fifth 137 assists and a team-second 575 boards (168 offensive). He had 17 double-doubles over the course of the season.

On December 30th, in an 86-80 loss to the Detroit Pistons, Grant hit 10-of-11 field goals, scoring 22 points with six rebounds and three helpers. He made nine-of-12 from the field just five days later, dropping 18 points with 12 rebounds in an 89-66 win over the Boston Celtics. On March 29th, he scored 15 on seven-of-eight from the field, with 13 rebounds, five steals and two blocks in a 92-80 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Fifth Star

24 Jim Jackson 397.2

Jim Jackson was a 6’6” two-guard and small forward from Toledo, Ohio born on October 14th, 1970. After earning McDonald’s All American honors as a high school senior in 1989, he went on to earn NCAA AP All-America honors in the last two of his three college seasons at Ohio State. The Dallas Mavericks chose him in the first round of the 1992 NBA Entry Draft, with the fourth overall selection.

Jackson shares an NBA record, by appearing with 12 franchises over his 14 season NBA career. He played his first four-and-a-half seasons with the Mavericks, appearing in 289 games and averaging 19.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. He then spent time with the New Jersey Nets (31 games, 16.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists), the Philadelphia 76ers (48 games, 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists), the Golden State Warriors (31 games, 18.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.2 steals), the Portland Trail Blazers (49 games, 8.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists), the Atlanta Hawks (96 games, 16.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists), and the Cleveland Cavaliers (39 games, 10.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists).

On December 2, 2001, Jackson signed with the then 2-13 Heat for one year and $789,170. I’m not saying he had a positive impact, exactly, but the team went 29-26 when Jackson made an appearance (and 7-20 without him). He started in 19 of his 55 overall games for the Heat at small forward.

Jackson’s totals suffered due to his late addition to the team, but he still placed fifth with 589 points, fourth with 290 rebounds, fourth with 140 assists, and also added 42 steals and 14 blocked shots. He led Miami with a .469 three-point percentage, sinking 38-of-81 from beyond the arc.

Jackson made 238-of-538 shots overall (.442) and 75-of-87 from the foul line (a team-leading .862). His per-game totals were better than his cumulative stats, with a team third 10.7 points, a team-third 5.3 rebounds, a team-fourth 2.5 assists, and a team-fourth 0.8 blocked shots.

Jackson had four double-doubles for Miami, and scored in double digits 29 times. In a 102-96 Heat win over the Los Angeles Lakers on January 16th, he came off the bench for 31 minutes, and scored 19 points with seven rebounds and five assists. On March 12th, he made 10-of-13 shots, including all three of his triples for a team-high 23 points, along with seven boards and two assists as Miami won their 21st game in 28 tries, defeating the Phoenix Suns, 90-78.

After Jackson’s lone season in Miami, he joined the Sacramento Kings (63 games, 7.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists), later also playing with the Houston Rockets (104 games, 13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals), the Phoenix Suns (67 games, 6.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists), and the Los Angeles Lakers (13 games, 1.7 points). He currently serves as a basketball analyst for Fox Sports 1.

The Rest

3 Laphonso Ellis 288.4

5 Eddie House 281.2

50 Vladimir Stepania 229.7

13 Kendall Gill 209.2

15 Chris Gatling 209.1

25 Anthony Carter 183.4

22 Sean Marks 56.7

35 Malik Allen 45.4

12 Mike James 21.9

8 Tang Hamilton 19.6

4 Sam Mack 10.2

52 Ernest Brown -3.7