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New Miami Fan? Here's All You Need to Know about the Heat

Pedro HeizerCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2010

Congratulations! For some extraordinary reason you have decided to become a Miami Heat fan. But with this new title you need to understand a few things about the organization that you now “love."

The Miami Heat are a professional basketball team based in Miami, Florida for those of you who didn’t know. We are part of the southeast division, in the Eastern Conference of the NBA.

We play our home games in this little arena we like to call American Airlines Arena. Our owner is a billionaire, Micky Arison who is also the owner of Carnival Cruise lines. Our coach is the young Erik Spoelstra and our president is basketball Hall of Famer Pat Riley.

We were formed in 1988 as an expansion franchise along with the Charlotte Hornets.

Since then, we have made the playoffs 13 out of 21 seasons, won seven division titles, one conference title, and one championship (in 2006 when we beat the Dallas Mavericks 4-2).

In our first season, let’s be honest, we stunk.

We had a roster full of young players and journeymen. Some of the important players you should know about since you are now a Heat fan from that inaugural year are Rony Seikaly, Kevin Edwards, Grant Long, Sylvester Gray, Rony Sparrow, Dwyane “The Pearl” Washignton, and Billy Thompson.

We began the season with 17 straight losses (and NBA record at the time) and we finished the season with a league worst 15-67 record.

From 1994 to 1997, we were worried that the city of Miami was not going to give us a standard facility so we started looking for a relocation spot. Some cities we looked into were Las Vegas, Memphis, St. Louis, and San Diego. Luckily for you we didn’t relocate and stayed in Miami.

Something amazing happened in the 1995 season.

We hired Pat Riley, yes the legendary coach that coached the Showtime Lakers. Well, we hired him as a president/head coach.

Coach Riley freaked us all out when right before the season began he traded away (oh this is important, pay attention) Glen Rice and Matt Geiger to the Hornets in exchange for Alonzo Mourning (if you don’t know, he’s a big deal in Miami).

Also during that season, he acquired another Heat great Tim Hardaway (also a big deal in Miami). We finished with a winning record and Mourning was among the league leaders in scoring and rebounding. The sad part about this Miami Heat squad is that we lost in the playoffs in a three-game sweep versus the 72-10 Bulls.

Lets jump ahead five years, in the summer of 2000 we needed to change.

We lost our bid to get another great superstar in Tracy McGrady so we again made a trade with the Hornets (boy we do love to make trades with them!). We traded P.J. Brown and Jamal Mashburn and we received Eddie Jones, Anthony Mason, and Ricky Davis.

We also picked up Brian Grant in the free agent market. With a team that included Mourning, Hardaway, Majerle, Bowen, and Carter, we were one of the favorites out of the Eastern Conference to win the title. But bad news struck when our superstar Alonzo Mourning came back from the 2000 Olympics and told us all that he would miss the entire season because of a rare kidney disorder called glomerulosclerosis.

The next two seasons, well, they were when we didn’t have that many people in the stands. Coach Riley missed the playoffs for the first time in this coaching career and many of the players from our glory days were gone.

Let’s jump ahead once again.

In 2003, Alonzo Mourning’s contract expired so that gave us a lot of cap room to rebuild out team. With that cap space, we signed Lamar Odom and point guard Rafer Alston. Oh and a huge thing also happened in 2003 that I’m not sure you knew about, we drafted Dwyane Wade out of Marquette with the fifth pick in the NBA Draft.

There was a lot of controversy involving this however, because we passed up on signing a great free agent point guard named Gilbert Arenas (look how he turned out). We also signed another rookie named Udonis Haslem (you may see him back this season) and that was also a big deal.

Haslem is a hometown boy, he went to high school in Miami and went to college at the University of Florida. With a team that included Odom, Alston, Haslem, Wade, Grant, Jones, and both Butlers, we were the most surprising teams in the league.

We lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Indiana Pacers 4-2

After a great season in 2003-2004, we took yet another big step in becoming a great team…scratch that, we took a humongous step.

We traded Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Shaquille O’Neal on July 14, 2004. This was also another time in which we in Miami felt a huge wage of Miami Heat “fans” start coming to games.

That season we finished with our second best record in franchise history, 59-23 (good enough to be the number one seed). We swept our first two playoff series versus New Jersey and Washington and lost to the Detroit Pistions in heartbreak Game 7 here in Miami.

That offseason we again got better.

With the largest trade in NBA History (a five-team, 13-player exchange), we traded Eddies Jones, Rasual Butler, and Qyntel Woods in exchange for Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, and James Posey. Later that summer we signed Gary Payton, Jason Kapono, and Wayne Simien as well.

People started to hate on us by saying we were to old and that out team would not mesh together and after a 11-10 start with our boy Shaq already hurt, they were right…

But have no fear, this is a great story. Our savior came, and his name was Pat Riley.

Stan Van Gundy resigned in order to be with his family and Pat Riley took ever and the rest is, well…history. We won the championship. Boy I never saw so many Heat fans before.

Then things started going downhill again.

In the 2007-2008 we missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003. We started losing…losing bad, and so Shaquille O’Neal started giving attitude and we traded him to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Shawn “The Matrix” Marion and Marcus Banks (remember this trade.. it’s also important).

Then things just got worse. Our best player, Dwyane Wade went down and Pat Riley decided it was best to shut him down for the rest of the season on March 10.

After that terrible season we were lucky enough to win the second pick in the NBA Draft and we picked up Michael Beasley out of Kansas State.

Then, in the second round, we traded with the Timberwolves in order to get the national champion point guard out of Kansas, Mario Chalmers.

In that season, we were the first team since the San Diego Rockets to come back from a 15 win season and make the playoffs. We eventually lost to the Hawks in seven games.

The next season, we were a little better. We won 47 games and were in the fifth seed in the playoffs and we lost to the Celtics in five games.

Now, here we are. After all that, We now have Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh as the South Beach superteam.

We are now the premier team in the league with a young and legitimate Big Three. A few more things you new fans should know about, here are some quick facts:

We have two jersey retired: number 33 Alonzo Mourning and number 10 Tim Hardaway.

We have one Hall of Famer in Pat Riley.

We’ve had six head coaches and our current one is Erik Spolestra.

Dwyane Wade is our only finals MVP and scoring champion.

Well, I hope you new fans understand a little bit more about your new favorite team that you love… I’m still not sure what took you so long to like us, but I guess better late than never, right?

Thanks again. 

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