5. Tim Hardaway
You can’t tell the story of the Miami Heat without talking about Tim Hardaway. The best point guard in franchise history had his two best seasons in a Heat uniform — a two-year stretch from 1996 to 1998 when Hardaway missed a total of two games and motored Miami. In 1996-97, Hardaway led Miami to a 61-21 record and their first-ever trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. In the clinching Game 7 of the second round against the New York Knicks, Hardaway had the best Heat playoff performance until Dwyane Wade came around.
4. Chris Bosh
No Heat star sacrificed as much as Chris Bosh did. Only LeBron James — after The Decision and his collapse in the 2011 NBA Finals — endured the criticism and vitriol that Bosh did. And yet, Bosh emerged from his time with the Heat proving that he was more than a player who got empty stats on a losing team. As a center, he anchored a legendary Heat defense. He extended his range out to the 3-point line. And he grabbed the biggest offensive rebound in Heat history. Even with his career cut short due to blood clots, Bosh’s place on this list is unquestioned.
3. Alonzo Mourning
Pat Riley joined the Heat in the summer of 1995. Just days before he season started, he traded for Alonzo Mourning. Mourning instantly became the Heat’s franchise player. And once Tim Hardaway joined in a midseason trade, they became a formidable one-two punch. Zo embodied the defensive intensity that characterized the Heat teams of the late ‘90s.
Mourning won two Defensive Player of the Year awards during his first stint in Miami. And after a life-threatening kidney disease and a stint with the New Jersey Nets, Mourning rejoined the Heat in 2005. And he was the best center in the 2006 NBA Finals.
2. LeBron James
Remember the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, after Miami went down 3-2 to the Boston Celtics? Would the Heat have blown up the Big Three experiment if they had lost that series?
We’ll never know — because LeBron James scored 45 points and grabbed 15 rebounds on the road in an elimination game. That was LeBron’s best performance in a Heat uniform, but he provided Miami fans with plenty more in his four seasons. He hit a huge 3 in Game 4 of the 2012 Finals after suffering from cramps just minutes earlier. He scored 37 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals.
He’s the only player to win the regular season MVP as a member of the Heat. He’s one of the three best players to ever play basketball, and he played four heart-stopping years for Miami.
- Dwyane Wade
Who knew that the Miami Heat had drafted such a special player with the fifth pick in the 2003 NBA Draft? Dwyane Wade’s scintillating rookie season convinced Shaquille O’Neal to ask the Los Angeles Lakers to trade him there. And in just his third season, Wade led the Heat out of a 0-2 series deficit to win their first championships.
After suffering injuries the following two seasons, Wade won a scoring title and averaged 30 points per game in 2008-09. In 2010, Wade convinced James and Bosh to join the Heat. Miami won two more championships during the Big Three era. And though he was more limited at the tail-end of his career, Wade still brought clutch playoff performances against the Charlotte Hornets in 2016 and Philadelphia 76ers in 2018.
Dwyane Wade is the reason Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James joined the Heat. But he’s number one on this list because of so much more.