50 Most Pivotal Moments in Miami Heat History
Miami has fallen to the depths of the NBA basement as well as risen to its highest peak by winning the team's first and only championship in 2006.
Considering the history of the Heat organization, there are many moments that altered the team and essentially brought it to where it is today.
These are the most pivotal moments in Miami Heat history.
50. Drafting of Dexter Pittman
The jury is still way out on whether this pick was worthwhile, but at 32nd overall, I think Pittman was a solid choice for the Heat. This could be the pick of the future, and time will only tell.
For all we know, this could be the No. 1 most pivotal moment in Heat history in another 10 years.
49. Trade for John Salley
Salley's Hollywood career definitely worked out better than this trade did for the Miami Heat, but the team was only four years old. It wasn't their fault, right?
48. Stan Van Gundy Coming in to Coach
He coached for two and a half winning seasons in Miami until he was replaced by Pat Riley, who took the Heat to the 2006 championships.
Van Gundy might have only been around for a short time, but he had a very positive impact on the Heat's history.
47. Drafting Caron Butler
Butler had a decent rookie season for Miami but was plagued by injuries in his second year and was then traded away. This pick could have really panned out for the Heat if Butler played at 100 percent of his ability.
46. Trade for Shawn Marion
Marion was a solid contributor for Miami in the short time he played for the Heat. He could have had more of an impact if he wasn't shipped off during the whole rebuilding process that Miami went through.
It also hurts that he played for Dallas this past season.
45. Drafting Michael Beasley
Considering Kevin Love, Russel Westbrook and Brook Lopez were taken later in the first round (not to mention Chalmers was drafted in the second round and they traded for him), this draft choice should be a lesson in what not to do for the Miami Heat. After taking Dwyane Wade fifth overall, the Heat should have done more with this second overall pick.
Beasley did, however, have two decent seasons in Miami even if they weren't second overall pick material. And who knows, maybe the draft picks the Heat picked up for him could really pan out.
44. 1992 Playoff Series vs. the Bulls
Just like this picture, the series between the young Miami Heat and Jordan's Bulls was brutal. Miami was playing in its first ever playoff series and was promptly swept by the Bulls in three games.
This series may have ended badly, but it was an integral part of the Heat's history. After all, they were a playoff team after only three seasons in the league. That's impressive, especially during that time period.
43. Losing to Boston in Game 1 of the 2011 Season
This game may seem insignificant now, but this loss meant a lot to the Heat and to their critics. It was the first game of the Big Three era, and they lost.
That loss pushed the Heat to be better and come back and eventually beat Boston 4-1 in their playoff series. Talk about revenge.
42. Signing of Veterans for 2011
Miami picked up a whole bunch of veteran players to fill out their roster this past year in hopes of compiling a championship team.
They were close, but players like Juwan Howard, Erik Dampier and Jamaal Magloire couldn't help the team enough for them to beat Dallas in the finals. It was a good idea, but I think these older guys won't be on the team in the coming years and the Heat will take a different approach.
41. Drafting Eddie House
Eddie House was a solid contributor for the Heat in his first three seasons and helped to build up the team that would be handed over to Dwyane Wade in 2003.
Not the best player in history, but House helped out wherever he could and was an electric guard in the Heat lineup.
40. Signing of Mike Bibby
Bibby was signed as a free agent this past year to fill in the point guard spot for Miami and essentially helped lead them to the finals.
He was good but not great and was pivotal in showing the Heat that they desperately need a solid point guard to run the offense and direct the Big Three. Bibby tried, but he wasn't that guy.
39. Trade for Brian Grant
Grant was acquired in a three team trade from the Trail Blazers and played pretty well in his years on the Heat. Considering he was part of the trade to bring Shaq into Miami, he deserves more recognition.
38. Drafting Sherman Douglas
Douglas averaged very solid numbers for the young Miami Heat team after they drafted him 28th overall in 1989. I think if the Heat hadn't traded him away, he could have been a real franchise player while the Heat were slowly becoming a decent team.
37. Erik Spoelstra Being Named Coach
I don't believe that the Heat's success is entirely because of their star players, but I do think it mostly is. Spoelstra was named coach when Pat Riley stepped down and he was on the sidelines for Miami's run to the finals this past year.
Spoelstra seems to be doing a good job on the Heat bench, but I still don't think he has what it takes to lead superstars the way that Riley or Phil Jackson did. When he does, his promotion will move up much higher on this list.
36. Beating Philadelphia in 2011
The first playoff series for the Big Three went exactly as planned for the Heat. Miami won easily in five games and showed they weren't going to be pushovers in the 2011 season. They pulled off the series win, set their sights for Boston and seemingly didn't let anything phase them.
35. Trade for Anthony Mason
Mason was brought over in a trade from Charlotte, a team that had been beating up the Heat for years. He immediately contributed to the Heat offense, averaging just short of a double-double, and helped them reach the playoffs.
Mason still holds some franchise records on the Heat, and even though he only played one season in Miami, he still had a solid impact on the club.
34. Signing of Mike Miller
Miller was signed before this season to help out as a role player in the Heat's run to the finals. He helped to contribute wherever he could—decently on offense as well as a solid defender during the playoffs.
If he stays healthy, he could really help out the Heat next season in their attempt to return to the finals.
33. Beating New Orleans in 2004 Playoffs
When Miami faced off against the New Orleans Hornets in the 2004 playoffs, they were trying to exorcise a demon that haunted the team throughout the 1990's.
The new Dwyane Wade-led Heat beat the Hornets in seven games and finally beat the team that they had so much trouble against only a few years before. Wade was proving he was a winner and a big part of Heat history with this series win.
32. Signing of Joel Anthony
When Miami signed the undrafted, Canadian center Joel Anthony in 2007, nobody thought much of it. However, Anthony became a huge contributor in the Heat's 2011 playoff run and was a major presence in the low post.
Anthony was a ball-blocking machine in the playoffs and could mature into a very solid player for the Heat in coming years.
31. Move into Southeast Division
30. Signing of Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom was signed as a free agent in the 2003 offseason and was a major contributor on a rebuilding Heat team for the one year he was in Miami.
He averaged just under a double double with 17.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. He was also helpful to Miami in being part of a trade with Los Angeles that brought Shaq to South Beach.
29. Drafting of Steve Smith
Miami drafted Smith fifth overall in 1991, and he helped lead the Heat to their first winning season in franchise history.
He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First team and later to the second USA dream team who would win the World Championships.
28. Signing of Jason Kapono
The three point shooting master was acquired as part of building the amazing 2006 Heat championship team.
Kapono still holds franchise records for three-point shooting and was a major help in the championship run.
27. Sign and Trade to Acquire Chris Bosh
While many believe that Bosh is definitely the "three" in the Big Three, he still is an incredible player with the ability to have a major impact on games. He has made the last six All-Star Games and is almost averaging a double double for his career.
He will definitely go down as one of the better players to ever suit up for the Heat.
26. Beating Orlando in 1997
One of the major rivalries that the Heat have is with the other Floridian team, the Orlando Magic. The only time the two teams have met in the playoffs was in 1997, when the Heat took the series 3-2.
They both play in the same division and have split the division title over the last seven years, with Miami winning four, including the 2011 one.
There's nothing better than beating a rival in a tough playoff series.
25. Trade for Jamal Mashburn
Mashburn played a big role for the Heat in the late 1990's, helping the team to win four consecutive Atlantic Division titles.
He also helped the Heat beat Pat Riley's former team the New York Knicks in seven games in 1997definitely a huge contribution to Heat history.
24. Wade Injury in '07 That Spurred Win Streaks
In the 2007 season, Wade went down with a shoulder injury and opted for rehab. The Heat stepped up and managed to still win the division title without their star guard.
Even in a season filled with injuries, Miami still fought hard to earn a second consecutive NBA title and made the playoffs. They were swept by the Bulls in the first round, but showed their resolve in reaching that point.
23. Draft Trade for Mario Chalmers
When Miami traded for star Kansas guard at the 2008 NBA draft, they were trading for a point guard of the future.
Chalmers has the skill to become a solid starting guard for the Heat and he is maturing into a solid player. This trade could become one of the biggest in Heat history if Chalmers becomes the player he can be in the NBA.
22. Signing of Udonis Haslem
Udonis Haslem isn't an all-star player, nor is he the type of guy who would receive the attention and scrutiny that a guy like LeBron James would.
He is, however, one of the most important guys a team could ever hope for.
He went undrafted, so he knows what it feels like to earn a spot in the NBA. He fought injuries and his temper to earn playing time and is a huge fan favorite in Miami. This was a great signing for the Heat.
21. Awful 2008 Season That Spurred Rebuilding
The Heat finished dead last in the league after the 2007-08 season with a 15-67 record. That started the process of rebuilding, which eventually led to them reaching the finals in 2011.
Had the team remained decent and not stumbled so far that year, who knows how mediocre they could be now?
20. Drafting Rony Seikaly
Usually when a team expands into the league, they don't draft a franchise player with their inaugural draft pick. However, Miami isn't like every other team.
With the ninth pick in the 1988 draft, Miami took Seikaly, who would eventually become one of the best players in team history.
He set a number of records for the Heat, and when he was named the NBA's most improved player in 1990, he received the first league award in team history.
19. Alonzo II: The Return of Mourning
One of the best players in team history returned to the club at the end of his career to help Shaq, Wade and company to win a title in 2006.
Mourning helped to contribute in the paint and swat balls into the seats. He averaged 2.7 blocks that year for the Heat.
Mourning was also a huge help as a veteran leader on the team and helped the younger players fit into their roles. It's great to see that Zo won his only career championship with the Heat.
18. Signing of Gary Payton
When Miami signed Gary Payton in the 2005 offseason, they not only added a star player to their roster, but also a key tool to help towards winning a championship.
Payton brought his extensive resume with him to South Beach, along with veteran leadership capabilities and the ability to contribute even in a limited role. Payton was a big help towards Miami's championship in 2006.
17. Game 1 Against New Jersey in 2006 Playoffs
In the second round of the 2006 playoffs, the Heat faced the New Jersey Nets with home court advantage. That same advantage was taken away by the Nets, who beat the Heat by 12.
That loss was extremely pivotal for Miami, as they went on to win the next four straight games and take the series. Sometimes you need a kick in the ass to wake you up and realize you have an all-star team that doesn't lose to New Jersey.
That semi-sweep gave Miami confidence and allowed them to...(next slide)...
16. Beating Detroit in 2006
In the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals, Miami was faced with a rematch against the Detroit Pistons, who beat the Heat in seven games the previous year.
The series was a tough one, with the Heat taking away the Pistons' home court advantage by winning game one. Eventually, Miami prevailed in six games to reach the finals for the first time in history.
This win was huge for Miami because it proved that they could move on from the tough loss in 2005 and overcome it.
15. Beating Chicago in 2011
Coming out of the Eastern Conference, Chicago was the favorite to win the NBA championship in 2011. They were also considered to be a much better team than the Miami Heat.
After the Bulls took game game one by 21 points, the Heat battled back to win the next four games and take the series. This victory propelled the Heat into the finals and proved that they could take on the best and come out on top.
14. Huge Trade for Role Players
Sure, championship teams are made up of superstars, but they also owe much of their victories to their role-playing teammates.
In the 2005 offseason, Miami swung a huge trade to land Jason Williams, Antoine Walker and James Posey. These three players would contribute in a large way to Miami's championship run in the 2006 finals.
13. Drafting Glen Rice
Rice was drafted by the Heat fourth overall in 1989 and immediately became the go-to star on the team. He led Miami to its first ever playoff series and was the first Heat player to average 20-plus points in a season in 1991-92.
Although the Heat weren't able to win a playoff series during Rice's time in Miami, he still helped them to put up some of the best seasons in Heat history.
12. Beating Boston in 2011 Playoffs
Even when Miami finished second in the Eastern Conference at the end of last season, many still didn't believe they had it in them to beat the top tier teams.
Miami went 1-3 against the Celtics in the regular season, with that victory coming in the third last game before the playoffs when Miami beat Boston by 23. There was no way that Miami could take on the Celtics in a seven game series, right?
Miami took the series in five games, with each of their victories coming at an average of nine points. Miami was on the road to the finals when they beat the Celtics and proved to the world that they were the real deal.
11. Sign and Trade to Acquire King James
Arguably one of the best players in the NBA, LeBron James came over to the Miami Heat before this past season and had an immediate effect on the team.
LeBron helped Wade bring Miami back to the finals, and considering how good and relatively young he is, he could help Miami win a few championships down the line.
This move falls just short of the top 10 considering LeBron has yet to fully prove himself as having changed the history of the Miami Heat. Maybe next year.
10. Trade for Tim Hardaway
One of the best players in Miami Heat history is none other than Tim Hardaway. The electric guard helped Miami to some of its best years alongside Alonzo Mourning and held some franchise records at the time.
Hardaway was an MVP candidate on the Heat and helped the team to its best season ever. Miami retired Hardaway's No. 10, one of only two numbers to ever be retired by the team.
9. Riley Takes the Reins in '05
Pat Riley isn't the type of man to sit back as team president and watch his team waste away. In December 2005, Riley took over as coach of the Heat from Stan Van Gundy and eventually led Miami to its first championship.
Riley was the right choice to coach a team filled with superstars and big names, and he showed that he still had what it took to lead a team from the sidelines and not the back offices. Could this same situation happen again soon? Maybe...
8. Change of Ownership to Micky Arison
When Micky Arison took over the team before the 1995 season, the change seemed like a routine changing of the guards in the back offices.
However, the switch had an immediate affect on the club with some quick moves that he made, but also throughout the years, as his efforts behind the scenes helped shape the Heat teams that have enjoyed major success over the last decade and a half.
With Arison in the back office the Heat seem to be in pretty good hands.
7. Trade for Mourning
The arrival of Alonzo Mourning in Miami in 1995 marked a change in the history of the Heat. Mourning was playing at a near-MVP level, and were it not for the unstoppable 1996 Chicago Bulls, this Heat team could have made a splash in the playoffs.
Mourning's first stint in Miami was a huge part in his number being only the second to be retired by the Miami Heat organization, and it placed him as one of the best players in team history.
6. Amazing December in 2010
Many critics wrote the 2010-11 Heat off when they started the year at 9-8, until the calendar turned to December.
Led by the Big Three of Wade, James and Bosh, Miami only lost a single game in the entire month of December and came out of it with a 25-9 record.
That unbelievable month helped Miami's confidence and raised them into elite status in the NBA and helped them reach the 2011 NBA finals.
5. 2006 NBA Championship Victory
Miami had been a decent team for many years and had decent playoff runs, but the 2006 season was the year they finally won it all.
Miami managed to beat tough teams in the 2006 playoffs to win its first and (so far) only NBA championship in decisive fashion over the Dallas Mavericks.
The team that suited up for Miami in 2006 was full of future Hall of Fame players, and everything just seemed to click. Who knows when the Heat will win their next championship, but until then, the 2006 victory will remind Heat fans of a great team of the past.
4. The Shaq Trade
In the early 2000's, Miami needed some help to complement Wade on the roster. Enter Shaq.
The Big Aristotle came over to Miami from Los Angeles in a huge trade and would help Miami win its first ever championship.
Shaq's contribution to the Heat in his years in Miami helped make the Heat an elite team that would have pulled off a repeat finals win if they hadn't succumbed to injuries.
3. Game 5 vs. Dallas in 2006
Tied at two games apiece in the best of seven NBA Finals series, Miami hosted the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5.
Needing a victory or they would face elimination in Dallas in Game 6, the game went into overtime. To make for an even more intense finish, the result came down to a last second finish.
The winning points were scored by, who else, Dwyane Wade when he hit a free throw to put Miami up by one. When Devin Harris failed to score, Miami was within one win of its first championship.
Doesn't get much better than that.
2. Bringing in Pat Riley
Has an executive had more of an effect on a team than Pat Riley has in recent years? It's tough to say otherwise.
Both as coach and president, Riley has affected the Heat organization for more than a decade and helped to create some of the best seasons in Heat history. Riley's moves will go down as some of the most pivotal that have ever been made in the organization.
1. Drafting Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade is the heart and soul of the Miami Heat and has been ever since he was drafted in 2003. Wade will undoubtedly finish his career as the greatest player in Heat history, having been responsible for the 2006 NBA title and being the nucleus of the Big Three this past season.
Wade being drafted onto the team is the moment that changed the Miami Heat forever.