For a franchise that began its existence about as badly as possible, the last two decades (22 years, to be exact) have played out rather well for the Miami Heat.
The Heat entered the NBA in the 1988–89 season with a roster packed with legendary names still uttered in NBA circles—Rony Seikaly, Kevin Edwards, Grant Long, Sylvester Gray, Rory Sparrow, Jon Sundvold, and Pat Cummings.
With such an arsenal of weapons, it’s no small wonder the Heat lost their first 17 games—at the time an NBA record—en route to a league worst 15–67 record.
There was at least a glimmer of hope when the Heat finally won that first game against the Clippers (had to be them, didn’t it?).
But still, there were probably not too many fans expecting the next two decades to bring a pair of franchise centers, a shoo-in first ballot Hall-of-Fame 2 guard, three trips to the conference finals, an NBA championship, and the union of two of the league's four best players (and three of the top 20) in their respective primes, looking to stockpile rings.
Say what you will about the Heat, Pat Riley, Miami as a sports town, or the performances of LeBron James and Chris Bosh in July 2010, but after an inauspicious start to life in the NBA, Riley managed to make the Heat relevant pretty quickly, and he’s outdone himself (with the help of some ping-pong balls in 2003) in keeping them there.