In July of 2010, superstars LeBron James and Chris Bosh shocked basketball fans the world over when they announced they’d be signing with the Miami Heat to join their Olympics teammate Dwyane Wade. The club had a won world championship in ‘06 with a pair of All-Stars, but the formation of the “Three Kings” seemed poised to alter the NBA landscape for years to come. Looking back, that fateful night mostly just serves as yet another example of the franchise placing its cards on the table and going all in.
The Heat's NBA debut was actually a pretty dubious introduction, as the club began the ‘88-89 season by losing its first 17 games in a row. They’d post 18 victories the following year, but that was of little consolation for fans. The ‘89 NBA Draft would bring Glen Rice to South Beach, and eventually, the sharpshooter helped change the franchise’s fortunes. In ‘91-92, the Heat booked their first-ever trip to the postseason, and two years later, claimed victory in the playoffs for the first time. The appearances in ‘91-92 and ‘93-94 were encouraging steps for the young club, and after a series of personnel moves in the summer of ‘95, it became apparent that the franchise meant business. Highly regarded head coach Pat Riley took control of the team, and the popular Rice was dealt to Charlotte in exchange for All-Star center Alonzo Mourning.
From ‘95-96 to ‘00-01, the Heat captured the Atlantic Division crown four times and appeared in the postseason on six occasions. One other notable streak took place during this time: the team became embroiled in an intense rivalry with the New York Knicks. The two franchises squared off in the playoffs four times in the ‘90s, and in each showdown, the series went the full seven games before a victor was decided. Whether it was fatigue from battling New York so many years in a row or just a proverbial hump that they couldn’t get over, the Heat cooled off considerably over the course of the next two seasons, dropping so low that they headed into the ‘03 draft with a pick in the top five. It wasn’t clear then, but the selection of Dwyane Wade was the spark that the club needed.
Wade led Miami back to the playoffs in ‘03-04 and was rewarded for his efforts that summer when the organization acquired a new running mate for him, Shaquille O’Neal. Together, “Flash” and “Diesel” powered the Heat to their first Finals appearance in ‘05-06 and captured the club’s first NBA title. Things would quiet down for the next few seasons until ‘10, when LeBron announced that he’d “be taking his talents to South Beach.” With a trio of All-Stars leading the way, Miami advanced to the NBA Finals four years in a row and took the league crown in ‘12 and ‘13.
American Airlines Arena has become a hotbed for hoops excitement, and while King James has since moved on, fans are more than content to bang on their pots and pans, and cheer the Heat toward that next world championship.