March Madness Bracket Tournament for Top 16 Players in Miami Heat History
The Miami Heat have only been a franchise since 1988, but they've still had their fair share of great players grace the hardwood.
From Alonzo Mourning to Tim Hardaway, to the team's current stars like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the Heat have a number of guys who could all vie for the top spot among the team's all-time players.
What better way to settle the debate of who the greatest Heat player of all-time is than by setting up a one-on-one tournament to decide.
The rules are traditional one-on-one rules, and all baskets count as one point. The objective of the game is to be the first player to get to 21 points, and all fouls are called by the defender. And the most important rule of all is that you keep the ball on a made basket, and you turn it over on a missed basket.
Now that we've set up the guidelines, let's move on to the players in the tournament and the subsequent seedings.
Contestants and Seeding
To qualify for this tournament a player must have played for at least one full season with the Heat. The seedings are based on the longevity of a player's success over their time with the Heat, and most importantly, their individual impact on the franchise.
The seedings are as follows:
1. Alonzo Mourning, C
2. Dwyane Wade, SG
3. LeBron James, SF
4. Glen Rice, SF
5. Shaquille O'Neal, C
6. Jamal Mashburn, SF
7. Tim Hardaway, PG
8. Steve Smith, SG
9. P.J. Brown, PF
10. Chris Bosh, PF
11. Rony Seikaly, C
12. Eddie Jones, SG
13. Kevin Edwards, SG
14. Bimbo Coles, PG
15. Udonis Haslem, PF
16. Dan Majerle, PG
First Round: 1. Alonzo Mourning vs. 16. Dan Majerle
What made Alonzo Mourning such a spectacular player during his career was his athleticism on both sides of the ball.
Off the dribble, or with his back to the basket, Mourning was one hook-and-spin away from a high-percentage shot nearly every time he touched the ball.
While Dan Majerle, known for his long-range stroke, would be able to hit a number of jumpers over Mourning in this matchup, Mourning's athleticism on both sides of the ball would ultimately be too much for Majerle to overcome.
Without the ability to get to the line and sink shots, Majerle's game would be stuck outside on the perimeter.
Post moves and athletic perimeter defense would be the difference maker in this first-round blowout. Mourning moves on with a dominating performance over the fan-favorite, "Thunder Dan" Majerle.
Final Score: Alonzo Mourning 21, Dan Majerle 9
First Round: 2. Dwyane Wade vs. 15. Udonis Haslem
It's a first-round battle between the heart and soul of the Miami Heat during the pre-LeBron years.
While this one might look intriguing on paper, Dwyane Wade would dominate this one without any trouble.
Udonis Haslem isn't an awful defender, but the same can't be said for his atrocious isolation offense skills.
With no one to pass to or screen off of to get open looks, Haslem would be stuck trying to create offense for himself, and that's just not his style of game.
Wade, on the other hand, lives in isolation offense. He would dominate this one on both sides of the ball, leading to an easy, easy win.
Final Score: Dwyane Wade 21, Udonis Haslem 6
First Round: 3. LeBron James vs. 14. Bimbo Coles
Poor Bimbo Coles. LeBorn James would run circles around him in this matchup.
The 6'1'', 180-pound Coles might have an advantage when it comes to quickness off the dribble, but LeBron's 6'8'', 255-pound frame would mitigate that advantage rather quickly.
Offensively, LeBron would either shoot jumpers over Coles or take it to the rack with ease. Scoring over Coles wouldn't be an issue for LeBron, and stopping him on defense wouldn't be either.
Coles was a solid role player for the Heat, but he was never an explosive player, and that's what would hold him back here.
I'm sure LeBron would let Coles score a bucket or two out of respect.
Final Score: LeBron James 21, Bimbo Coles 4
First Round: 4. Glen Rice vs. 13. Kevin Edwards
Kevin Edwards was the Heat's main man during their inaugural season, leading the team with 14 points per game.
That changed the next season when Glen Rice put on a Heat jersey and took over as the Heat's first real superstar.
The difference maker in this matchup is, hands down, Rice's ability to score the ball in droves. While Edwards was a solid defender in his own right, Rice's five-inch advantage and his deadly stroke would be too much to stop.
This contest would be closer than it looks on paper because Edwards is no stranger to scoring against bigger defenders, but in the end, Rice's jumper off the dribble would be too much to handle.
Final Score: Glen Rice 21, Kevin Edwards 15
First Round: 5. Shaquille O'Neal vs. 12. Eddie Jones
Could Eddie Jones score on Shaquille O'Neal? Yes, he most certainly could.
Could Jones stop O'Neal on defense enough times to be able to outscore him? That's the real question, and the unfortunate answer for Jones is: no.
At just 6'6'' and 200 pounds, trying to stop O'Neal would be like trying to stop a freight train with a shoelace.
O'Neal's size and ability to hit mini-hooks in the paint would be too much for Jones to overcome. While he wouldn't come out on top, Jones super competitive nature would help make this one exciting to watch at least.
Jones would have to shoot about 70 percent to get enough offensive output to beat O'Neal, and that's just not happening.
Final Score: Shaquille O'Neal 21, Eddie Jones 16
First Round: 6. Jamal Mashburn vs. 11. Rony Seikaly
Rony Seikaly was one of the first players to ever wear a Heat jersey, and he played his first six seasons in Miami.
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean anything in this tournament.
In this contest, Seikaly is matched up with Jamal Mashburn, a player who is physical, strong and aggressive on both sides of the ball.
Seikaly has a three-inch advantage on Mashburn, but that's honestly the only advantage he would have.
Mashburn's dribble penetration and step-back jumper would be too much for the big man out of Lebanon to handle.
While the seeding isn't far off, the score would be a major blowout in favor of Mashburn and his well-balanced and aggressive style of play.
Final Score: Jamal Mashburn 21, Rony Seikaly 5
First Round: 7. Tim Hardaway vs. 10. Chris Bosh
This matchup is extremely tough to call for two reasons.
Chris Bosh does have an 11-inch and 60-pound advantage over Tim Hardaway, but Hardaway also has one of the sickest crossovers in NBA history.
The difference maker in this one would come down to whether or not Bosh would settle for a significant amount of perimeter jumpers. Based on his tendencies, I believe he would do just that.
Hardaway was always a pesky and somewhat tenacious defender, and while he wouldn't be able to keep Bosh out of the paint too often, he would be able to find ways to create turnovers and missed possessions.
All in all, while this matchup would be unbelievably close, Hardaway would sink a game-winner by crossing Bosh up and nailing a perimeter jumper.
Final Score: Tim Hardaway 21, Chris Bosh 19
First Round: 8. Steve Smith vs. 9. P.J. Brown
While P.J. Brown might end up throwing Steve Smith into the crowd in this matchup—like his suplexing of Charlie Ward back in 1997—he wouldn't be able to get the win.
Brown was a vicious defender, an opportunistic big man and a smart rebounder, but that wouldn't save him against Smith in a one-on-one contest.
Smith was always a handful coming off the dribble, and on the perimeter, Brown's defense wouldn't hold up.
After a few long-range jumpers, Brown would have to defend Smith on the perimeter, and his success holding Smith off the scoreboard would be short lived.
Final Score: Steve Smith 21, P.J. Brown 10
Quarterfinals: 1. Alonzo Mourning vs. 8. Steve Smith
Alonzo Mourning would smother Steve Smith on the defensive side of the ball in this matchup, frustrating Smith and making it difficult for him to get to the bucket.
While Smith's defense wouldn't be awful either, the amount of energy that he would need to keep Mourning out of the paint would wear him out and make him less efficient on offense.
Mourning wouldn't win this one in pretty fashion, but he'd get the job done simply by outlasting Smith.
The difference maker would be Mourning's post game and ability to contest Smith's shots from almost anywhere on the court while also being able to slow down his penetration.
Final Score: Alonzo Mourning 21, Steve Smith 14
Quarterfinals: 2. Dwyane Wade vs. 7. Tim Hardaway
Here's a matchup that I would pay top dollar to see.
Dwyane Wade vs. Tim Hardaway would not only be one of the closest games of the tournament, but it would also be a hard-fought, gritty game that would get really serious rather quickly.
Wade and Hardaway are two ridiculously competitive players, and that would spill out onto the court in this matchup.
While Wade has the size advantage here, it wouldn't matter much, except for his ability to post Hardaway down and hit his patented fade-away jumper over him with ease. That jumper would be the difference maker in this matchup.
Hardaway's killer crossover would be tough for Wade to hang with, but it wouldn't be impossible. His athleticism would help him stay in front of Hardaway, which would be enough to contest his shots on a regular basis.
This one would certainly get chippy very quickly, and it would be an exciting matchup to see. Ultimately, Wade's killer fade-away would beat out Hardaway's killer crossover.
Final Score: Dwyane Wade 21, Tim Hardaway 20
Quarterfinals: 3. LeBron James vs. 6. Jamal Mashburn
LeBron James vs. Jamal Mashburn is another matchup that I would love to see.
Not only are they both similar players—in regards to their size and the way they play the game—but they are also both extremely physical players.
That physicality would make this matchup one for the ages. The fact that LeBron is a better all-around player than Mashburn wouldn't matter in this one-on-one situation, but his isolation offense that would lead to easy buckets around the glass would make a huge difference.
Mashburn is no pushover on defense, but he's not nearly on the same level as LeBron, and that hurts his chances here.
His defense would frustrate LeBron early, leading to low-percentage jumpers, but once LeBron's competitive nature kicked in, his quick step off the dribble would take over.
Defensively speaking, LeBron's physicality and intelligence would be tough for Mashburn to overcome. It would not be impossible for him, but it would be very difficult because of LeBron's athletic ability to guard penetration and contest shots at the same time.
Final Score: LeBron James 21, Jamal Mashburn 15
Quarterfinals: 4. Glen Rice vs. 5. Shaquille O'Neal
At 7'1'' and 325 pounds, Shaquille O'Neal may seem like an unstoppable force. But Glen Rice isn't a pushover, and he's not that small either, weighing in at 6'8'' and 230 pounds.
The difference maker in this matchup would be Rice's pure stroke out on the perimeter.
While O'Neal could certainly dominate him with the ball in the paint, defending Rice on the perimeter would be a very, very different story.
All it would take is two or three long balls in a row for O'Neal to realize that he'd have to defend Rice on the perimeter. Once he steps out of the painted area, Rice's quickness and ability to penetrate would open up the paint for him.
O'Neal would get worn out trying to chase Rice around, and that would ultimately be the nail in the coffin for the Big Diesel.
Final Score: Glen Rice 21, Shaquille O'Neal 17
Semifinals: 1. Alonzo Mourning vs. 4. Glen Rice
The difference between Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O'Neal—minus the two inches and nearly 65 pounds—is Mourning's impressive athleticism and conditioning.
At 6'10'' and 260 pounds, Mourning would be the defensive force against Glen Rice that O'Neal couldn't be because of his size and lack of agility.
Where O'Neal couldn't guard the perimeter and stay true in the paint, Mourning could. Where O'Neal would get tired chasing Rice around, Mourning wouldn't.
The point is, a Mourning vs. Rice matchup would look much different than the O'Neal vs. Rice matchup in the previous round, and it would end in a very different manner for Rice.
Mourning's ability to hit shots outside of the paint doesn't make him lethal, but it makes him more dangerous and more difficult to guard than O'Neal. Also, Rice wouldn't be able to score nearly as easily against Mourning, and that would wear him down, impacting his ability to consistently defend Mourning.
All in all, Mourning would squeak out an impressive win here because of his tenacity on the defensive side of the ball and Rice's inability to out-work him on both sides of the ball.
Final Score: Alonzo Mourning 21, Glen Rice 16
Semifinals: 2. Dwyane Wade vs. 3. LeBron James
Predicting the winner of a one-on-one matchup between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade is about as hard as climbing Mount Everest.
I actually don't know how hard that is, but I'm assuming that it's next to impossible.
Either way, LeBron vs. Wade is a match made in basketball Heaven, and it would be absolutely thrilling to watch.
The difference between both players, aside from LeBron's size advantage, would be their styles of play—with Wade hitting more mid-range jumpers and LeBron getting to the tin more often.
When you look at each player's defensive capabilities, the slight advantage has to go to LeBron, as he can body Wade a bit more and keep him from getting comfortable in his post-up game.
This one would certainly come down to the final possession, and LeBron's offense against Wade's defense would be just a bit more powerful and difficult to stop.
Putting on a show for the ages wouldn't be hard for LeBron and Wade, and in all honesty, this matchup might be a better individual showing than the final round of this tournament.
Final Score: LeBron James 21, Dwyane Wade 20
Finals: 1. Alonzo Mourning vs. 3. LeBron James
LeBron James' physicality would be put on display in this matchup against Alonzo Mourning.
Throughout the tournament, Mourning's athleticism was his greatest advantage, and while his athleticism hasn't changed, LeBron is the one player in this tournament that can easily equalize that advantage.
Mourning is two inches taller and five pounds heavier than LeBron, but that is negligible considering LeBron's freakish athleticism.
Perimeter offense would be the name of the game for LeBron, as it would open up the paint and also allow him to get to the rim.
It would take time for LeBron to get going, but luckily for him, he would have a much easier time defending Mourning than most other players in this tournament.
Scoring around the rim wouldn't be easy for Mourning against LeBron, and his mid-range game would take a hit thanks to LeBron's ability to consistently contest jumpers.
All in all, LeBron would come out on top in this matchup, mainly because of his versatility in isolation offense and his ability to defend every player on the court.
Final Score: LeBron James 21, Alonzo Mourning 13