For a team that’s been in the league for less than 30 years, the Miami Heat can boast a pretty formidable all-time starting five. They can lay claim to some of the best LeBron seasons (and in my opinion his best season in 2012-2013), as well as the last great Shaq season. The lure of South Beach and Pat Riley being Pat Riley have helped this franchise land a lot of great players over the years, and their all-time starting five is going to be up there with some of the most established teams out there.
PG – Tim Hardaway
In what’s probably a surprise to no one but Mario Chalmers and his immediate family, Tim Hardaway is the best point guard this team has ever had. No one else is even close. While the Heat did have great point guards such as Penny Hardaway and Gary Payton on their roster at some point, it was during the end of their careers and neither of them were anywhere close to their prime. Hardaway gets the spot in a landslide.
SG – Dwyane Wade
Wade will go down as the most iconic member of the Heat. He’s the best player the team has ever drafted and has been a part of every championship the Heat have ever won. It would be impossible not to have him on this list. I’m sure no one’s disagreeing with me putting him on the list, but sometimes people forget just how good Wade used to be. Something I’ll never forget is watching him eviscerate the Celtics in Game 4 of the 2010 playoffs to avoid the sweep. It remains the second-most impressive playoff performance by a player not named Michael Jordan that I’ve ever seen. The first belongs to the next guy up, someone to whom Wade is probably used to being second best.
SF – LeBron James
The best playoff performance I’ve ever seen that happened after 1998 came from LeBron James when he lit up my Celtics during Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. James is the best player the Heat have ever had, and they got him for a lot of his best years. Miami was where he perfected his point-forward style of play and meshed his passing skills with his ability to score. His Miami teams were on the cutting edge of pace-and-space basketball and have a lot of success to prove it. If I’m building an all-time Miami team, the post-Decision LeBron teams are going to be my starting point.
PF – Chris Bosh
Because I’m basing my team on the Erik Spoelstra system, I’m putting in one of the most important pieces of that team that often gets overlooked. Chris Bosh may have complained after the fact that he didn’t get to post up more when playing with LeBron, but his outside shooting was key to their success. By drawing defenders out of the paint, Bosh gave more room for Wade and James to penetrate. If those defenders drifted towards the paint to help, Bosh would punish them with open jumpers. With both Wade and James driving to the hoop, the paint can’t be clogged with two old-school big men.
C – Shaquille O’Neal
Now, we’re not getting Lakers Shaq or Orlando Shaq, but we’re getting Shaq, and that’s worth a starting spot on this team any day. Alonzo Mourning is probably a more significant member of the Heat’s franchise, but if I’m trying to win games, I’m putting Shaq in the middle. He does clash a little with the pace and space plan, but I have faith that everything would be just fine with him in the middle.
I think this team is one of the better starting fives in the East. It’s hard to think of a team they couldn’t at least give a run for their money. That’s pretty impressive for an expansion team that came into the league in 1988.
An edit was made to this story to correct an error stating that Alonzo Mourning didn’t win a championship with the Heat. He was a member of the 2006 NBA championship team.