Miami Heat Greatest Dunkers: The Top 10 High Flyers In Miami Heat History
The Miami Heat is a franchise that has managed to build up a rich tradition in a very short amount of time. In only 22 seasons the team has managed to accomplish everything that a franchise can.
From All-Star players to an NBA Finals’ MVP, you name it and the Heat has amassed it.
This has partly been because of the culture that was cultivated when the franchise was first assembled in 1988-1989. The culture was taken a step further when Pat Riley became coach in 1995-96.
However, the biggest impact on this franchise has been the quality of character from the players that have been apart of it. From the unforgettable Rony Seikaly to the legendary Alonzo Mourning, no matter where one looks it isn’t hard to find a special talent in Heat folklore.
Among all those amazing players throughout its history, the Heat organization has had a lot of special talents. From guys who could dribble around the world with their eyes close to lights out shooters that could probably toss a grain of salt through a McDonalds’ cup 10 feet away.
The Heat organization has never lacked in acquiring players with a unique skill set. The franchise has basically been built upon the notion that a player has to excel in at least one very distinctive aspect of basketball in order to dawn its’ jersey.
Often this has resulted in a lack of top tier athletic talent.
Over the years, the Heat has maintained a reputation of being one of the most athletically gifted challenged teams in all the NBA. If one goes through the 22 year history of the Miami Heat, never would it be stated that they were a top 10 team in terms of athleticism.
In regards to high flyers, the list may be even dimmer.
The Heat organization has struggled to supply its’ fan base with players that can dazzle with areal displays. It has been rare that the team has had more than two players on it’s roster that can dazzle with high light dunks.
So after reflecting from my own memories and a little research, I present to you the 10 greatest high flyers in Miami Heat history.
The Heat has had a few players with a talent for throwing it down. Most of whom never really got off the bench or stuck around long enough to show it.
Here are just a few that may ring a bell for true Heat fans.
Tim James (SF): A gifted leaper from the Miami area who was a first round draft pick of the Heat. He only played four games for the Hear before they traded him in a deal to acquire Eddie Jones and Anthony Mason. James recorded a vertical of 42 inches.
Jamario Moon (SF): A ultra gifted athlete who spent 26 games with the Heat after a mid-season trade. He left the franchise being regarded as the best lob recipient in franchise history.
Rodney Buford (SG): A talented scorer drafted in the second round by the Heat. Before Michael Beasley and Udonis Haslem were lighting up joints on South Beach, there was Buford. He was dealt after playing 34 games for the Heat.
Jerome Beasley (PF/SF): A versatile player with the skill to play three positions. J. Beasley was a practice star but never only played two games in his two years with the Heat. He was more of a developmental player but fail out of favor because of his troubles with marijuana.
Robert Hite (PG/SG): A gifted athlete that went undrafted as a rookie. He was signed by the Heat and was immediately regarded by team president Pat Riley as arguably the best athlete the team ever signed. Nicknamed flight, Hite recorded a vertical of 45 inches. He would only play in 12 games as a member of the Heat before he was waived for personal issues.
10. Daequan Cook
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Daequan Cook spent three seasons with the Heat before being moved to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Before he left, he provided he fans with enough excitement and heart aches for a short life time.
He is often regarded by the casual fan as nothing more than a three point shooter. But any one with any intelligence is very aware of the multitude of talents that Cook displayed as a member of the Heat.
With his 35 inch vertical, Cook gave plenty of glimpses of his high flying abilities. One can only hope that one day he returns to the Heat organization.
9. Mark Strickland
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Mark Strickland gave Miami Heat fans four years of highlight reel dunks. It’s really a shame that he played in an era that was void of Youtube.
Nick named the human pogo stick. Strickland made his name off explosive put backs and alley- op, courtesy of Tim Hardaway and Eric Murdock.
He never showed the complete game to garner more minutes or a larger role, but when given a chance to be productive, Strickland rarely failed to bring the crowd to its feet.
8. Eddie Jones
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Eddie Jones provided the Heat with quality play for six seasons. Before Dwyane Wade arrived, he was easily the best shooting guard in franchise history and arguably the second most athletic.
Heat fans generally remember Jones as a three-point shooting defensive specialist. But Jones was also one of the most prolific dunkers in franchise history.
His one handed stuffers brought many of Heat fans to their feet on a nightly basis.
7. Shawn Marion
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Shawn Marion played a total of 58 games for the Heat. Yet still he managed to record a collection of highlight dunks that trump players with three or four times as many games in a Heat uniform.
The one that Heat fans remember most is his game winner versus the Bulls in 2009. But make no mistake, that wasn’t his only memorable dunk as a member of the Heat.
Marion may have failed short in regards of what his expected production was to be. But he sure as heck didn’t disappoint in regards of flying high and bringing the crowd to its feet.
6. Ricky Davis
Ricky Davis was one of the most athletically gifted players in Heat history. He’s easily top five in athletic prowess.
While with the Heat, Davis was mostly regarded as a three point shooter because of his 40.5 percentage from long range. Yet that shouldn't have been a reason for fans to be blind to the fact that Davis could bring the thunder when given the chance.
He didn’t have many opportunities to display those talents as he was often a third option or lower. However, when he did get the opportunity to take flight he made sure not to disappoint.
5. Dorell Wright
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Dorell Wright spent six seasons with the Heat before moving on to Golden State this past summer. Over that time frame, he earned the title of being the most athletic player to ever play the position for the organization.
He teased fans with his seemingly limitless potential. And it seemed as if he always found away to make a play that made one’s jaw drop or brow raise.
Even though the 24-year-old Wright is gone, seemingly forever? His aerial displays won’t be soon forgotten. Especially his monster put-back over the Timberwolves.
4. Michael Beasley
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Michael Beasley spent only two seasons as a member of the Miami Heat. He was dealt this offseason because the organization felt he didn’t fit in with the direction they were headed.
He was arguably the most athletic player to ever play the four spot for the Heat. However, the player nicknamed the “Beast” for his ferocious dunks often chose to lay the ball up when Heat fans were expecting dunks.
Usually when Beasley did dunk the ball it was out of nowhere and of the eye popping variety. He also had a poor habit of picking up technical fouls for his after-dunk antics…see Pau Gasol for reference.
3. Harold Miner
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Harold Miner spent three seasons with the Heat before being dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s the only player in franchise history with the distinction of being the NBA Slam Dunk Champion.
Miner is arguably the greatest show dunker in franchise history. Those skills rarely translated to in game dunks. However, when they did, it generally was the kind of aerial display that made teammates look in amazement.
Miner will forever be remembered as the guy that didn’t make it. But in all fairness, he should be remembered more for all the good things he provided Heat fans with; namely his spectacular dunks.
2. Glen Rice
Glen Rice spent six seasons with the Heat before being dealt to the then Charlotte Hornets. During his tenure with the Heat he was easily the greatest player the franchise had ever known.
Many fans of basketball only look at Rice as a shooter and nothing more. Very few are aware of how explosive an athlete he was.
Before Wade, Miner, and anyone else to play for the franchise, Rice was filling the Heat highlight reels with his versatile aerial abilities.
1. Dwyane Wade
As if you didn’t know. Dwyane Wade isn’t the greatest athlete or the best leaper in the Heat franchise’s history, but he’s arguably the hardest worker.
No Heat player has served up more facials than Dwyane Wade. He has a dunking index that reads like his twitter following.
Without question he is the greatest aerial artist in franchise history.