Apologies for the lack of posting recently. It's been winter break, and I've been enjoying some down time to unwind. But this week we will be bringing you a few end-of-the-decade posts to reflect on the aughts. Today, we present to you the Miami Heat All-Decade Team.
PG - Tim Hardaway. Hardaway hardly played for the Heat this decade, though he did lead the team into the new millennium, and stayed on through the 2000-01 season, where he averaged 15 points and over 6 assists per game. After the 2001 season, he bounced around with a few teams before calling it a career. At the beginning of this season, the Heat honored Hardaway by retiring his No. 10 jersey -- making him only the second Heat player to receive the honor.
SG - Dwyane Wade. Do I really need to explain why he makes the first team? Simply put, since being drafted in 2003, Wade has become the face of the franchise, as well as one of the top three players in the world, alongside Kobe and LeBron. He's also become a perennial MVP candidate. Hopefully, he will remain in a Heat uniform into the next decade.
SF - Eddie Jones. Love him or hate him, Eddie Jones was one of the best players this franchise had playing for it this decade. Though his true position is at guard, for the purpose of this list, we moved him to small forward. Over his Heat career, he averaged nearly 17 points a game, while serving as a veteran leader.
PF - Udonis Haslem. Haslem's stats might not always be eye-popping, but since going undrafted out of Florida, Haslem has made a name for himself, spending his whole career thus far in Miami. He does all of the dirty work for the team: rebounding, taking charges and all-around hustle. Not to mention he has mastered the mid-range jumper. He is practically a walking double-double, and his desire to put the team first was epitomized by his willingness to come off the bench this season. He's a fan-favorite, and it would be a travesty to leave him off this list.
C - Alonzo Mourning. The bicep rounds out the starting lineup at center. Though his halcyon days were with the Heat in the 90s, he makes the starting lineup on principle. His intensity on the court was matched only by his charity off of it, and combined, it has made him one of the most loved athletes in South Florida sports history. He was also the first Heat player to have his number retired by the organization.
Coach: Pat Riley. Riley was the mastermind behind nearly all the Heat teams this past decade, and while he wasn't always the one on the bench making the calls (Stan Van Gundy and Erik Spoelstra both have had shots), Riley has been the man associated with the Heat more so than any other coach. He coached the team to its first and only league title in 2006 (after he took over for SVG -- but that whole ordeal will not be talked about here).
PG - Jason Williams. White Chocolate spent three years with the Heat, averaging about 10 points and 5 assists in his stint on Biscayne Boulevard. He also happened to be the PG at the helm during that fateful 2006 title run, which gives him plenty of credentials, along with the stability, to come off the bench at PG for this all-decade squad.
SG - Caron Butler. The Heat's first round draft pick from 2002 only spent two seasons with the Heat before being traded to the Lakers. But during his rookie season, he averaged 15 points a game, which was second on the team. Since his trade, he has developed into a respectable player, who consistently scores 20 points a game.
SF - Lamar Odom. Odom only spent one season with the Heat before being shipped to LA along with Butler, however, that one season was still good enough to land him on the bench of our all-decade team (17 points, 10 boards and 4 assists per game, while helping to lead the team to the playoffs a season after finishing 25-57).
PF - Brian Grant. I wanted to make an argument for Grant to make the first team at PF, but it was tough between him and Haslem. "The General" was a great leader for the Heat for four years, and like Haslem, his stats weren't flashy, but he did what the team needed him to do -- including playing out of position at center. His best season came in 2001, when he averaged 15 points and 9 boards. He was shipped to the Lakers with Butler and Odom before retiring and later being diagnosed with Parkinson's.
C - Shaquille O'Neal. Statistically speaking, Shaq made a good argument for the first team. His first season in Miami, he had an MVP-caliber season, averaging 23 points and over 10 rebounds a game in leading the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals. The following season, he would help lead the team to its only NBA title. And while Shaq parted with the team on a bitter note, his contributions to the franchise still made him worthy of the all-decade team.