After years of being considered a second rate sports city with one major league team, Miami finally got some respect prior to the 1988-89 NBA season.
The Heat were historically bad during their inaugural season, losing their first 17 games before squeaking by the dismal Los Angeles Clippers, 89-88.
They were marginally better each of the next three years, actually making the playoffs in 1991-92, losing in the first round.
After another disappointing year, the Heat had their first winning record in 1993-94, making the playoffs and again losing in the first round.
Prior to the 1995-96 season, the front office got serious about winning, bringing Pat Riley on board to coach the Heat. Miami had much higher winning percentages for the next six years, making the playoffs every year (and losing in the first round four of six times).
After the Pat Riley era, the Heat brought in Stan Van Gundy, who took them to the playoffs both of his seasons coaching Miami. Stan was replaced by Riley near the start of the 2005-06 season and guided the Heat to their first NBA title.
What followed were three average seasons, and one very bad one, 2007-08, when the Heat equaled their shameful 15 win total from their first season.
Prior to the 2010-11 season, the sports world was held hostage as "The Decision" was made, and LeBron came to the Heat. Miami fell just short of its second title to the Dallas Mavericks, losing the Finals in six.
What follows is a Top 50 list. Granted, there have only been 23 seasons, so over a quarter of players who suited up for the Heat are included in the list. Even though there are statistics out there that measure a players value, based on a complex algorithm of assorted statistics, I used a far simpler method, and sorted players based on career minutes played for Miami.
Acquired: Via trade with the Houston Rockets, 6/27/90.
Alec served mostly as a backup for Rony Seikaly during his time with Miami. He averaged 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
After being waived by the Heat during the 1993-94 season, Alec earned credentials as an orthopedic surgeon.
Alec died of a heart attack at the age of 40 playing a game of pickup basketball.
Acquired: Free Agent, 8/26/2003
Lamar played his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers and his last seven with the Los Angeles Lakers. In between, he played for Miami for one season, but it was a pretty good season.
Lamar averaged 17.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists, excelling for a very average Miami Heat team.
Odom finished fifth in the league that year in defensive rebounds, with 616.
Acquired: Trade with Charlotte Hornets, 8/1/2000
Trade with Minnesota Timberwolves, 8/24/2007
Era: 2000-2001, 2007-2008
Ricky played for the Heat in 2000 for seven uneventful games, totaling 32 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds, or an average night in the life of Dwayne Wade.
It was in his second stint with the Heat where he made some impact.
For the 2007-08 season, Davis averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game.
Acquired: Decision 7/10/2010
King James made waves with his widely covered "Decision" during the 2010 offseason. After joining the Heat as part of the Big Three, his numbers dropped off a little from his time in Cleveland, although his average statline remains formidable: 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, seven assists and 1.7 steals per game.
King James promised no less than seven rings for the Heat, so stay tuned.
Acquired: Free Agent, 9/4/2003
Free Agent, 1/10/2010
Era: 2003-2004, 2009-2010
Rafer started out as a streetball legend, and his unconventional moves were in part responsible for the And 1 mixtapes.
Alston's first stint with the Heat resulted in the Heat making it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, as Rafer averaged 12 points and four assists.
When Rafer rejoined the Heat to start 25 games in the 2009-10 campaign, his tagline was less impressive: 6.6 points, 2.9 assists and 2.2 rebounds.
Since being suspended from the Heat for missing practice, he played one year in China for the Zhejiang Guangsha and is currently a coach for the Christian Life Center in Texas.
Acquired: Free Agent - 10/2/1996
Isaac averaged 10.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists for the Heat.
Isaac was awarded the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 1997.
Acquired: Free Agent, 10/5/1995
Free Agent, 2/23/2000
Era: 1996-1997, 1999-2001
Games/ Started: 110/74
One of the most feared perimeter lockdown defenders in NBA history, Bowen was elected eight times to the NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams. For the Heat, Bruce was also a perimeter threat, hitting 35.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. His statline for the Heat was 6.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists.
Acquired: Traded from Charlotte on 8/1/2000
Mason was a great defender, a precision passer and a decent scoring option. During his single season with the Heat, Anthony averaged 16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and one steal per game.
Mason made his first and only all-star appearance during his season with the Heat, and helped lead Miami to a surprising 50 win season.
Acquired: Free Agent, 7/20/2001
Malik played about 22 minutes per game for the Heat during his time, averaging seven points and four rebounds for Miami.
Acquired: Drafted, 6/22/2002
Rasual averaged seven points, two rebounds and an assist per game for the Heat in 19 minutes per game during his stint in Miami.
Butler's greatest strength was off the bench as a three point specialist for the Heat, making 36.3 percent of his shots.
Acquired: Draft, 6/24/1992
In 17.9 minutes per game, Geiger scored an average of seven points and 4.3 rebounds.
Throughout his career, Matt shaved his head as a show of solidarity with his fraternal twin, Mark. Mark was diagnosed at the age of 22 with Hodgkin's disease, and lost his hair in the chemotherapy treatment.
Acquired: Draft, 6/24/1992
Miner was a dynamic presence on the hardwood and earned the nickname, "Baby Jordan" in part due to his highlight reel skill.
In spite of his overwhelming natural athletic gifts, his career was decidedly underwhelming, as Miner averaged 9.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game through his Miami career, mostly off the bench.
Harold played part of the next season with Cleveland before being released after 19 games.
Acquired: Trade, 11/7/94
Miami was the second stop on a long journey through the NBA for Willis, who played all or part of 21 seasons with eight different teams.
For the Heat, Kevin started at the forward and center positions, averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes per game.
Acquired: Trade, 11/2/94
During his time with the Heat, Owens was a decent second or third scoring option, averaging 14.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and exactly one steal in 33.5 minutes per game.
He was an above average player during lean times for Miami.
Acquired: Draft, 6/28/2000
Free Agent, 8/3/2010
Era: 2000-2003, 2010-2011
House specialized in outside shooting off the bench, with a Heat career average of 34.9 percent of three pointers made. He averaged 6.8 points along with 1.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists while with Miami.
Acquired: Free Agent, 9/22/2005
Gary started his Miami career as his NBA career was winding down. He played 12 seasons with the Sonics, rarely missing a game. He then played part of a season for the Bucks, followed by one season each with the Celtics and the Lakers.
Known as "The Glove" throughout his career, Gary had little left in the tank by the time he played for two seasons with Miami, averaging 6.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists while playing 25.6 minutes per game.
He won his only NBA title with the Heat in the 2005/6 season and will almost certainly be in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Acquired: Trade, 8/2/2005
Posey averaged 7.5 points, 4.9 boards and 1.3 assists while with the Heat.
Posey's brightest moment with Miami was during the championship run at the end of the 2005-06 season. James was a matchup nightmare for Dirk Nowitzki in the Finals against the Mavs, and due in large part to Posey, were able to secure their first NBA title.
Acquired: Trade, 6/28/2007
Cook played for the Heat his first three seasons in the league, a highlight coming when he won the three point contest in 2009.
While with Miami, Cook averaged eight points per game in 22 minutes, along with 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists.
Walker was a premiere scoring threat for the Celtics his first seven seasons in the NBA. He joined the Heat just in time for the run for the ring in 2005-06.
While employed by Miami, Walker averaged 25.1 minutes, scoring 10.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
Off the court, Walker has been on the wrong side of trouble a few times. He and teammate Nazr Mohammed were robbed at gunpoint in July of 2000. Walker has also been embroiled in legal trouble, including bad gambling debt and bankruptcy.
He has been out of the NBA for three seasons now, and is trying to mount a comeback.
Acquired: Draft, 6/24/2004
No, that picture above is not Chris Bosh.
Wright joined the Heat directly out of high school and was the youngest member of the championship team in 2005-06.
With the Heat, Dorell averaged 19.5 minutes per game, mostly off the bench. He scored 6.3 points, 3.7 boards and 1.2 assists per game.
Acquired: Free Agent, 7/3/2007
In 17.8 minutes per game, Joel averages 2.5 points and 3.3 rebounds.
He recently resigned with the Heat with a five-year contract.
Acquired: Draft, 6/26/2008
Beasley was selected second overall by the Heat in the 2008 draft. He was a playmaker right from the start, averaging 14.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 27.3 minutes for Miami during his two seasons with the Heat.
He joined the Timberwolves before the 2010-11 season and is their second leading scorer.
Acquired: Free Agent, 11/3/88
Sparrow played the first eight years in the league with the Nets, Hawks, Knicks and Bulls. He was on the floor when the Heat's first game tipped off. He scored the first basket for Miami, against the Clippers on 11/5/88.
Sparrow played both guard positions for Miami, averaging 27 minutes, 9.2 points, 2.2 boards and 4.5 rebounds during his two seasons with Miami. Miami won a total of 33 games over these two years, few of which would be possible without the leadership of Rory.
Acquired: Trade with the Celtics, 1/10/1992
Shaw played for the Celtics for his first two and a half years in the NBA. After joining the Heat for his next two and a half years, he averaged 7.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 24.2 minutes for Miami.
He is currently an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers.
Acquired: Draft, 6/27/1990
Burton was selected by the Heat ninth overall in the 1990 draft.
Burton was a threat off the bench for Miami, averaging 10 points, three boards and 1.3 assists in 21 minutes per game during his four years with the club.
Acquired: Draft, 6/26/2002
After Caron was selected 10th overall by the Heat in the 2002 draft, he immediately made significant contributions to Miami's offense, averaging 12.5 points, five rebounds and 2.3 assists in 33.5 minutes per game.
After two years with the Heat, Butler played for the Lakers, Bullets and Mavs, winning the NBA crown over Miami in 2011.
Acquired: Draft, 6/27/1989
Sherman played with Miami his first two and a half years in the NBA. He had a way of electrifying the crowd, playing 32.3 minutes per game and averaging 16 points, 7.9 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals.
Sherman went on a journey through the NBA after leaving the Heat, with stops in Boston, Milwaukee, New Jersey (twice) and Los Angeles (for the Clippers).
Acquired: Trade with Pistons, 9/8/1992
John Salley played six years for the Pistons before joining Miami. He was an excellent defender and earned the nickname, "Spiderman" due to his extremely long wingspan and shot blocking ability
For the Heat, Salley averaged 26.2 minutes, scoring 7.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.
After leaving the heat, John played for the Raptors, the Bulls and the Lakers.
Acquired: Free Agent, 8/6/1999
AC played four seasons for the Heat, getting less minutes each year. He finished his Heat career with averages of 22.2 minutes, 5.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
Acquired: Trade, 8/2/2005
Williams was a flashy point guard. With the Heat, he averaged 10.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and just over one steal per game in 30.1 minutes. He quarterbacked the Heat to their first NBA championship in his first season there.
Jason finished up his career by playing for three more seasons with the Magic and again with the Grizzlies.
Acquired: Expansion Draft, 6/23/1988
Billy played parts of two seasons off the bench for the Lakers before joining the Heat for their first season.
Billy started for Miami more often than not, becoming a mainstay for the Heat through their first three seasons. He averaged 25.5 minutes per game, logging 9.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and two assists.
Acquired: Trade with Minnesota, 6/26/2008
Chalmers was selected 34th overall by the T-Wolves in the draft, then dealt to the Heat on the same day.
Chalmers has been a solid contributor for Miami, averaging 26.7 minutes per game. He logs an average of 7.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals.
Acquired: Draft, 6/26/1991
Era: 1991-1995, 2004-2005
Steve started and ended his career with Miami. Between stints, he played for the Hawks, Trail Blazers, Spurs, Hornets and Bobcats.
While on the Heat, Smith was a very good second option for his point guards, averaging 14.4 points in 31.5 minutes per game, collecting 3.8 rebounds. He was also a very generous shooting guard, dishing out an average of 4.8 assists per game.
In 1997, Smith donated 2.5 million dollars to his alma mater, Michigan State. This was the largest single donation by an athlete to his school in history.
Acquired: Trade, 7/14/2004
Known simply as Shaq throughout his career, O'Neal dominated the floor starting with his rookie year with the Magic. He played four years for Orlando, followed by eight for the Lakers.
Shaq joined the Heat for his 13th year in the League. Coming in with three rings earned with Los Angeles, O'Neal was driven for another one. He helped the Heat win their only NBA crown in 2005/6.
Shaq played in the All-Star game 15 times, had a rap album and starred in the greatest movie about a rapping genie ever.
During his four seasons with the Heat, O'Neal averaged 19.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 2.1 assists per game.
Acquired: Trade, 2/14/1997
Mash played three and a half seasons for the Mavs before joining Miami for another 3 1/2.
An expert three-point shooter, Mashburn was teamed with PG Tim Hardaway and C Alonzo Mourning. Together, they made a formidable 1-2-3 scoring punch for Miami.
Mashburn is currently an analyst for ESPN and owns 71 restaurants.
Acquired: Free Agent, 12/29/1995
Voshon played his first five years in the league with the Heat, averaging 26.8 minutes, 11.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He was also a serious three point threat, making 39.9 percent of his shots from long range.
Lenard subsequently played for the Nuggets, Raptors and the Trail Blazers.
Acquired: Free Agent, 9/7/90
Askins played for the Heat for his entire NBA career, mostly off the bench. He averaged four points and three rebounds per game as a defensive specialist.
He is very high on this list regardless of never having been a featured player with Miami. His longevity is due in no small part to his dedication. He is currently an assistant coach with the Heat.
Acquired: Free Agent, 8/22/1996
As a testament to his NBA longevity, it should be noted that Majerle is also No. 7 on the Phoenix Suns career minutes list.
Dan was booed when the Suns drafted him in 1988, and Cotton Fitzsimmons admonished Suns fans with the public sentiment,"You'll be sorry you ever booed this young man."
For the Heat, Dan made his money by being a clutch shooter, a great defender and an all-around "Never say die" kind of guy. His career statline with Miami belies his importance to the team. In 30.3 minutes per game, he rang up 7.3 points, grabbed 4.1 boards and dished 2.6 assists.
Dan is currently an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns.
Acquired: Free Agent, 7/18/1996
PJ started his career with the Nets, playing three seasons before being picked up by Miami.
For his Heat career, Brown averaged 9.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.07 blocks in 31.2 minutes per game.
After leaving Miami, PJ played for the Hornets, Bulls and Celtics.
Acquired: Drafted, 6/28/1988
Kevin was the second pick for Miami, going with the 20th pick in the 1988 entry draft.
For Miami, Edwards averaged 12.2 points in 26.7 minutes per game, also picking up three rebounds and 3.2 assists.
After leaving Miami, Kevin went on to play for the Nets, Magic and Grizzlies.
Kevin currently serves as DePaul University men's basketball team's director of community, corporate and professional relations
Acquired: Trade, 8/30/2000
Brian played three seasons each for the Kings and the Trail Blazers before being dealt to the Miami Heat in a three player swap.
Brian was always known for his tenacious rebounding and blue-collar defense. For the Heat, he averaged 32 minutes per game, with 11 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
After leaving Miami, Grant played one year each for the Lakers and the Suns.
In November 2008, Grant was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and subsequently formed the Brian Grant Foundation. The new charity supports efforts toward the education and awareness of Parkinson’s disease in order to increase earlier diagnosis, educate patients and their families and provide a viable forum for people affected by the disease.
Acquired: Draft day trade with Sacramento, 6/27/1990
Free Agent, 9/23/2003
Era: 1990-1995, 2003-2004
Playing for the Heat during the time where Miami went from terrible to decent, Bimbo was an exciting Point Guard.
In 25 minutes per game, Bimbo averaged 8.7 points, 4.3 assists and one steal per game.
After leaving the Heat, Coles played for the Warriors, the Hawks, the Cavs and the Celtics before coming full circle to the Heat before retiring.
Acquired: Trade, 2/22/1996
Tim played the first five and a half seasons in the NBA with the Warriors, joining the Heat for another five and a half seasons.
Tim was considered one of the best point guards in the NBA. As a member of the Heat, he made the All-Star game twice, in 1997 and 1998. Tim averaged 17.3 points per game in 36.2 minutes. He also dished 7.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Tim may have been best known for pioneering the crossover dribble, dubbed the UTEP two step, in honor of his alma mater.
Acquired: Trade, 8/1/2000
Free Agent, 2/1/2007
Era: 2000-2005, 2006-2007
Jones started his career with the Lakers and Hornets before joining the Heat. For Miami, Jones was the starting shooting guard and was a force on the floor, averaging 36.4 minutes per game. He scored 16 points, 4.5 rebounds, three assists and 1.4 steals per game. He also made 38.1 percent of his three-point shots.
Jones finished out his career with the Grizzlies, the Heat again and the Mavericks.
Acquired: Draft, 6/28/1988
Rony was the first ever draft pick by the Heat, selected with the ninth overall slot. He was a small center by NBA standards, but quicker and more athletic then most.
Rony was the face of the Heat from the very beginning, their first bonifide star. Through his Miami career, he averaged 32.4 minutes per game, scoring 15.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
He played for several teams after leaving the Heat via trade in 1994. He currently is a DJ, spinning discs all over the country.
Acquired: Draft, 6/28/1988
Grant was another of the original Miami Heat to make this list. He was the ultimate blue collar player, earning a reputation for his aggressive defense and strong rebounding. His statline reflected his work ethic, as he scored 11.6 points, seven rebounds and 1.4 steals per game with Miami in 31.5 minutes of work.
He is currently a play by play announcer for Oklahoma City Thunder telecasts.
Acquired: Free Agent, 8/6/2003
Udonis started his NBA career with Miami, and is still on the team. He has averaged 10 points and 8.1 rebounds in 30.8 minutes throughout his career with the team.
When Miami signed the Big Three in 2010, Udonis restructured his contract, making half of what he used to, just to stay with the Heat
Acquired: Draft, 6/27/1989
Glen Rice was the fourth overall pick in the 1989 entry draft and was a premiere scoring threat right from his first game as a rookie. Over his career, he made 40 percent of his three-point attempts.
For the Heat, Rice's statline was impressive: In 35.7 minutes, he averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 boards, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Rice went on to play for the Hornets, Lakers, Knicks, Rockets and Clippers.
In recent years, Rice has taken up MMA fight promotion as owner and head of G-Force Fights, based out of Miami, Florida.
Acquired: Trade with the Hornets, 11/3/1995
Free Agent, 3/1/2005
Era: 1995-2002, 2004-2008
Zo was a formidable presence for Miami when on the floor. As center for the Heat, he averaged 16 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.7 steals in 29.8 minutes.
Mourning had retired from basketball to deal with a failing kidney when it was discovered that his cousin, retired marine Jason Cooper, was a donor match. The organ was transplanted on 12/19/2003, and Zo stuck around for several more seasons, earning his first and only championship in 2006.
Alonzo has had his number retired by the Heat, the only player to have earned the honor.
To answer the question—yes, he has been here that long already.
D-Wade is the Heat's all time leader in several categories, including minutes, points, assists and steals.
He has, over his career, averaged 37.6 minutes per game, scoring 24.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists 1.7 steals and one block.
He has played in the all-star game each of the last seven seasons, and hopefully will remain a Heat stalwart for at least eight to 10 more years.