With the NBA suspension still in effect, we’re going to use this time to look back on some Miami Heat memories. And also let Tyler Herro know that Jason Williams isn’t the fifth-best Heat player of all time. He’s not even top 10.
With a 32-year history, many players are candidates for the top 10. Let me know who you think I snubbed on this list. And click here for part II.
10. Bam Adebayo
Yes, he hasn’t finished three seasons with Miami. But he’s only the second player the Heat drafted who has made the All-Star team as a Miami player. (Dwyane Wade is the other.) Pat Riley has said, “He’s the Zo. He’s the UD. He’s the Dwyane.” At the time the Heat drafted him with the 14th pick in 2017, some questioned the pick. Jonathan Tjarks of the Ringer gave the pick a C.
While Adebayo still doesn’t space the floor, he adds value to Miami as a point-whatever, directing the offense. His dribble hand-offs have given Duncan Robinson copious amounts of open 3s. And his defensive versatility is next level.
9. Eddie Jones
The Heat traded for Eddie Jones just before the 2000-01 season, one that Alonzo Mourning missed all but the final 13 games due to a serious kidney disease. But the Heat still finished with a 50-32 record that year, thanks in large part to Jones’ dynamic two-way play. Jones’ time with the Heat coincided with a franchise transition — the team drafted Dwyane Wade in 2003 — but his veteran leadership was instrumental in both the 42-40 2003-04 season and the 59-win season the following season.
Jones averaged at least 17 points per game in his first four seasons with the Heat, and he was the third option on the first Shaq and Wade year.
8. Udonis Haslem
Udonis Haslem was undrafted out of college. He played a year in France. He is undersized; at 6-foot-8, Haslem frequently guarded players like Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace.
Always, Haslem competed. Through his first several seasons, he was a double-double threat. He could hit the 17-foot jumper. He could grab rebounds in traffic. In Game 6 of the 2006 NBA Finals, Haslem finished with 17 points and 10 boards — and guarded Nowitzki.
In November 2010, Haslem suffered a torn ligament in his foot — an injury that kept him out until the playoffs. Though he managed to turn the clock back during a few key playoff games, Haslem was never as effective. Still, he always epitomized Heat basketball.
7. Shaquille O’Neal
The Shaq trade in 2004 launched the Miami Heat from an upstart playoff team to a championship contender. And O’Neal had a great year — playing in 73 games (a mark he only surpassed once the rest of his career), averaging 23 and 11 while shooting 60 percent from the field. He also helped Miami win their first championship a year later, with strong playoff performances against the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons.
The reason why Shaq isn’t higher on this list? The rest of his stint in Miami featured many of his more uninspiring qualities. The injuries. Coming to training camp out of shape. Pointing fingers at his teammates and coach.
6. Glen Rice
Rice is the only pre-Pat Riley era Heat player on this list. Drafted by Miami in 1989, Rice played his first six seasons with the Heat. He led the Heat to their first two playoff appearances in 1992 and 1994, when he averaged more than 20 points per game. It’s too bad that the sharpshooting Rice isn’t playing in today’s NBA.
Rice was the centerpiece of a trade that brought franchise cornerstone Alonzo Mourning to Miami in 1995. Maybe that’s the best measure of his value to the Heat.