The clock hits zero, Dwyane Wade tosses the game ball to the sky, and is embraced by a suit-wearing Dorell Wright. The Miami Heat are the 2006 NBA Champions.
Recieving their rings on opening night of the following season, the Heat proceeded to be dominated by the Chicago Bulls. Little did they know this would be the start of a large decline for the Miami Heat organization.
After this abomination of an opener, returning from a championship, the Heat were eliminated in 4 games by the very team that ran a train on opening night. What no one really saw coming is what happened next—the worst season in franchise history, exactly 20 years after the inaugural season.
The Heat had the worst season ever by a team just two years removed from a championship. So began the rebuild.
During this horrible 15-67 season, the Heat trimmed a huge piece of the roster they felt was past his prime, and holding them back more than helping. I am of course speaking of Shaquille O'Neal. The trade brought in two important pieces to the Heat's rebuild—combo forward Shawn Marion and guard Marcus Banks.
The draft lottery also brought some relief, awarding the Miami Heat the second-overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft—which brought in a young man by the name of Michael Beasley. Beasley was considered to be the best overall player in the draft, and is already a favorite to win the NBA's rookie of the year award. Another piece added by the Heat was second-round pick and most outstanding player in the NCAA Final Four, guard Mario Chalmers.
After a long offseason of signing and releasing various players, the Heat acquired three-point specialist James Jones. Jones finished the 2007-08 NBA season third in three-point accuracy, behind only Jason Kapono and Steve Nash.
Miami also picked up French guard/forward and former Nugget Yakhouba Diawara. With still the possibility of more moves to come, it'll be a bit of a waiting game to see what happens next.
Another question to be asked—can Dwyane Wade recover from his surgeries and play even a fraction of his old self? Unless you've been under a rock for the past few weeks, the USA Men's basketball team has been dominating, with Wade as their leading scorer.
With outstanding athleticism and quickness, Wade has shown he is back in full—and then some. Many of his teammates on Team USA have said they haven't seen him this good since the NBA Finals.
Questions still remain for Miami at the point guard and center spots, but as the year matures, decisions will be made and maybe even some moves as well.
The REAL question on the tip of the tongue of all Heat fans and pretty much all NBA fans is—could this be the start of a new beginning in South Florida basketball? Only time will tell.