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This list is a compilation of the greatest Heat teams in franchise history. Sadly, the 2010-11 Heat cannot be considered just yet. They haven’t even played a game yet. However, their time is coming.
1. The Year Riley Steps In (2005-06)
Starters - Jason Williams, Dwyane Wade, James Posey, Udonis Haslem, Shaquille O’Neal
Bench – Antoine Walker, Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning, Jason Kapono, Shandon Anderson
Result – NBA Champs
They won it all. Enough said.
2. The Big Diesel’s Arrival (2004 – 05)
Starters - Damon Jones, Dwyane Wade, Eddie Jones, Udonis Haslem, Shaquille O’Neal
Bench – Rasual Butler, Keyon Dooling, Michael Doleac, Christian Laettner, Alonzo Mourning, Shandon Anderson
Result – Lost in Conference Finals (Pistons in seven)
A healthy Wade during the 2005 playoffs might have equated to two championships for the franchise at this point. You’d think Wade at full strength would have been enough to take out a Pistons team that barely beat Miami in the conference finals with Wade hurting.
3. Timmy, Mash, and Zo (1996-97)
Starters – Tim Hardaway, Voshon Leonard, Jamal Mashburn, P.J. Brown, Alonzo Mourning
Bench – Sasha Danilovic, Dan Majerle, Isaac Austin, Kurt Thomas, Keith Askins
Result – Lost in Conference Finals (Bulls in five)
Although this was one of the best three teams in Heat history, the ’97 Bulls were much better. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen led the Bulls to another championship that year after disposing of Miami in five games.
4. The Knicks Deliver The Final Blow (1999-00)
Starters – Tim Hardaway, Dan Majerle, Jamal Mashburn, P.J. Brown, Alonzo Mourning
Bench – Voshon Lenard, Bruce Bowen, Anthony Carter, Clarence Weatherspoon, Otis Thorpe
Result – Lost in Conference Semis (Knicks in seven)
Everyone remembers this team for losing to New York in the playoffs. They had everything going for them, but couldn’t close out the Knicks for the second consecutive year. The Knicks-Heat rivalry was in full swing at this point.
5. The Year A Legend Was Born (2003-04)
Starters – Dwyane Wade, Eddie Jones, Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant
Bench – Rafer Alston, Udonis Haslem, Rasual Butler, Malik Allen
Result – Lost in Conference Semis (Pacers in six)
To this day I still think this squad was the most exciting team in Heat history. They might have been small but that was their appeal. They were fast and entertaining led by a young rookie named Wade at the point. This was also arguably Odom’s best year as a pro. It’s too bad they had to break this team up. But anytime you have a chance to get an impact player like Shaq, you pull the trigger.