Miami Heat Face of the Franchise: Who Rules in South Beach?

Joshua Carroll@JoshmaniiiCorrespondent IIMarch 19, 2012

Miami Heat Face of the Franchise: Who Rules in South Beach?

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    The Miami Heat are are arguably the best team in the league. They have two of the best players in the league playing side by side with one another, to many people's dismay and are the favorites to win the championship this year after falling just short last season.

    That being said, the history of the Heat is nowhere near the caliber of what the roster looks like today, and as we are often times reminded, the history of franchise does matter. There are not multiple banners hanging in American Airlines Arena like they do in Staples or Boston Gardens. Miami does not have a Magic Johnson, a Larry Bird, a Michael Jordan, but that brings us to the question: "Who is the face of the Heat franchise?"

    Miami was formed as an expansion team in 1988 and have come a long way since then, when they lost their first 17 games. I think it's about time we declare the heart of the Heat.

    There are many candidates, but once you narrow it down to a few guys, this decision gets a little tougher than Lebron's.


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    Could Shaq possibly be the face of the Heat franchise? Hear me out. 

    He came to Miami, he guaranteed a championship, they won a championship. What more could you ask for?

    Now, it's no secret that Shaq was not the dominant force in Miami that he was in LA. But at the end of the day, he was still Shaq. He still warranted double teams in the post and is still one of the biggest personalities the NBA has ever seen.

    He took up-and-coming star Dwyane Wade under his wing and really transformed him into the superstar that he is today. Although he played only a little over three years with the Heat, he definitely played his part in the lone championship banner that hangs in AA Arena.

    Can you dig it? Is Shaq the face of the Heat's franchise? No, not even close, but the least the Heat could do is send him a Christmas card or something every year. He served his purpose.

Lebron James

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    Lebron James could retire as the greatest player to ever play the game, whether you like it or not. He played seven years in Cleveland and made the infamous decision to come to Miami to play alongside two other All-Stars.

    That being said, James has been simply dominant as of late and is arguably having his best season statistically wise while playing on one of the best teams in the league. He is on pace for his third MVP, leading the team in points, rebounds, assist, and steals. How could this guy not be the face of the franchise?

    Well let's not forget that he left his city and came into another guy's city. Even if Lebron brings five rings to Miami, it's not likely that he will ever be considered. He has only been with the Heat for the glory days. Not during the 15-win season or the first round playoff exits.

    Keep doing what you're doing Lebron, you are much appreciated by the Heat fans today. But understand that if you wanted to be the face of franchise, you should have stayed in Cleveland.

Tim Hardaway

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    Tim Hardaway has one of the nastiest crossovers the NBA has ever seen, and he was one of the best point guards in the league in his prime.

    Although he did not play his whole career in Miami, he is often times associated with the Heat organization first and foremost. He is the all-time leader in assists for Miami, solidifying himself in Heat history while playing alongside Alonzo Mourning and putting together some of the best seasons the Heat have ever seen.

    Although he did not win a ring in Miami, he did do a lot of winning there, and his number 10 now hangs proudly in American Airlines Arena. Hardaway's track record is pretty impressive, and he is still involved with the Heat organization today, but is it enough to be considered the face of a franchise? Not quite, but there's no doubt his name deserves to be at the top of the list.

Pat Riley

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    Pat Riley is the godfather of the Heat. He sits up in his office, makes the moves, and reaps the benefits. He can be spotted court side with his white hair slicked back and a blank expression on his face. There have not been many more prominent NBA figures off the court than Riley.

    In 2006, he came down from the front office and coached the Heat to their lone NBA championship. (Even though I don't know how much coaching it took for him to tell the team to get Dwyane Wade the ball.)

    He is the mastermind behind the big 3. He put together an old yet talented and experienced team in 2006 that coexisted amazingly well. It's as though he doesn't make a wrong decision.

    Riley is supposedly retired, but it's no secret that he continues to make moves in the front office. He is part of the whole Heat package able to lure great talent to South Beach.

    He prefers Dunkin Donuts rather than dunking on the court, but does that prevent him from qualifying to be the face of the franchise? No, that's not it, but there are just others more deserving of such a prestigious honor.

Alonzo Mourning

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    Alonzo Mourning is not only beloved by the Heat fans but is also one of the most respected and endeared guys to ever play in the NBA.

    There was nobody that deserved to be on the 2006 championship team more than Mourning, who left his heart and soul out on the court every time he stepped on the floor. He played a majority of his 15 years for the Miami Heat and served as a force inside afraid of nobody.

    After many people considered Mourning down and out after his kidney transplant, he came back to the Heat and made big play after big play during Miami's championship run. He really was the unsung hero of that team.

    However, his accolades and passion did not go unnoticed, and he became the first Heat player to ever have his jersey retired.

    Mourning seems like the perfect poster child for the Heat right? Well, not quite. I'd say Mourning finishes a close second to our winner.

Dwyane Wade

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    At the end of the day, there is just no other player more qualified and more deserving of being the face of the Miami Heat.

    When Dwyane Wade was drafted fifth to the Heat in 2003, he was overshadowed by Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James. But it is Wade who has done most of the laughing. Of the top 11 picks, he is the only one still playing for the team that drafted him. Not only that, but he has a ring as well.

    He has really done and been through it all throughout his career: tough injuries, tough losses, horrible seasons, great seasons. Although he had Shaq by his side in 2006, he almost single-handedly beat the Mavericks and propelled himself into stardom.

    After a few rough seasons, he not only demonstrated his loyalty to the city of Miami but also brought back some of his talented friends with him. He changed Miami from Dade-County to Wade County, he literally owns a key to the city, and is undoubtedly the face of the Miami Heat franchise.

    We have seen Wade grow and develop into the player he is today, all the while wearing that jersey loud and proud. He lets everyone know that American Airlines Arena is his house, and we couldn't agree more, Dwyane. He has built the Heat franchise from the ground up.

    What would no Dwyane Wade mean for the Heat? No hope, no championship, no big 3, just to name a few things. 

    He's a classy guy on and off the court, he's a competitor, he's a winner, and he will forever be the face of the Heat.