The Five Greatest Players in Miami Heat Franchise History

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The Five Greatest Players in Miami Heat Franchise History

Miami Heat
Steve Mitchell- USA Today Sports

Now that the Miami Heat organization has won three titles in the last eight years, they have solidified themselves as one of the top eight NBA franchises in league history. Since its start in 1988, the Heat organization has made huge strides in terms of success. The Heat franchise has missed the playoffs eight times over the last 26 years. There are some franchises that haven’t even made the playoffs eight times in their team's history, so this alone warrants respect.

The Heat have been blessed in terms of talent, whether that be through trading or the draft. Much of this can and should be attributed to Pat Riley, arguably one of the greatest coaches and executives in the NBA. Riley has not only coached the Heat to a championship, but he has also been the mastermind to one of the greatest free agent coups in NBA history, by re-signing Dwyane Wade, and signing Chris Bosh and LeBron James to multi-year contracts.

But, the Heat franchise wouldn’t have this stature without their players. Basketball has always been a team sport, but these five players helped shape the Heat franchise into a winning culture. A culture built on hard work and dedication turning into results. It takes a lot of mental and physical strength to carry a team on your shoulders. This is what separates All-Star players from Future Hall of Famers. These five players will undoubtedly be there. These are the five greatest players in Miami Heat franchise history.

Jared Doyle is a Miami Heat writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on twitter @outofboundsjay, "like" him on Facebook, or add him to your circle on Google.

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5. Udonis Haslem

Miami Heat
Steve Mitchell- USA Today Sports

The current co-captain of the Miami Heat has to be considered in the top five. Not only has he been a part of all three of the Heat’s franchise championships, but he is still arguably one of the best defensive players to ever suit up in a Heat uniform. Although he hasn’t done much statistically to impress, Haslem still sets the tone for the Heat on the court. Notching 17 points and 10 rebounds in Game 6 of the 2006 NBA Finals is a great example of this.

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4. Tim Hardaway

Miami Heat
Matthew Emmons- USA Today Sports

Tim Hardaway was traded from the Golden State Warriors to the Miami Heat in 1996, and helped the franchise become one of the best in the league for several years. Paired with recently acquired Alonzo Mourning, the duo would help lead the Heat to some of he best records in franchise history, including going 61-21 in the 1996-1997 season.

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3. Alonzo Mourning

Miami Heat
Kirby Lee- USA Today Sports

Alonzo Mourning is the definition of the Heat’s defensive identity. Not only has he won two Defensive Player of the Year awards, but he is also the franchise’s leading shot blocker with 1,625. Mourning helped the Heat seal their first franchise championship, averaging 1.1 blocks during the 2006 playoff run.

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2. LeBron James

Miami Heat
Derick Hingle- USA Today Sports

One of the greatest players to ever play the game deserves to be on this list, just by putting on a Miami Heat uniform. Not only has LeBron James been a major factor in bringing home consecutive championships to South Beach, he has also won two MVP awards while playing for the Heat franchise (which no other player has). When a championship has been on the line, James has been there to push it in favor of the Heat. His play has elevated the players around him, helping to create this dynasty were are all witnessing.

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1. Dwyane Wade

Miami Heat
Steve Mitchell- USA Today Sports

There is no question that Dwyane Wade is the greatest player to ever wear a Miami Heat uniform. Drafted in 2003 by the Heat organization, Wade became an instant superstar. Wade has been a major contributor to all three championships the franchise has won and has even had a county named after him (Miami-Wade County) in order to retain him during the 2010 Free Agency period. When thinking of the Heat franchise, Wade is the first player most people think of. Wade is the catalyst behind much of the franchise's success.

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