The Miami Heat has always been, and always will be one of the most attractive destinations for players around the NBA. A case in point is when LeBron James infamously took his talents to South Beach in 2010 to form a historic Big 3 with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, winning a couple of chips along the way.
Other than LeBron, Wade, and Bosh, however, the Heat have had more than a few stars that have graced the team throughout its history. While most of them remain in our memory, there are a handful of prominent players in their all-time roster whose respective tenures in Miami have been rather forgettable.
Having spent most of his career with the Seattle SuperSonics, the legendary Gary Payton actually bounced from team to team at the tail end of his career. One of his stops included a couple of seasons in Miami.
Payton joined the Heat in the summer of 2005 as a free agent. He was already 37 at that time, but Miami’s front office had an inkling that the former Defensive Player of the Year still had some gas left in the tank.
True enough, Payton played a significant role for the Heat during their 2005 championship run. The 6-foot-4 veteran point guard averaged 7.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 28.5 minutes per contest. For himself, Payton’s stint with the Heat had a right-place-right-time sort of sense, as he finally earned his first (and only) championship in what was an otherwise illustrious career.
Payton played another year with the Heat the following season, before finally calling it a career in 2007.
Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway had some similarities in his career with Payton, particularly in his final few years in the NBA prior to his retirement. Hardaway himself played for three different teams in his last four playing years, and the Heat was his final stop prior to retirement.
Interestingly, Hardaway had actually retired for a full season before making a run at an NBA comeback. Miami was more than willing to give a chance to do so, signing the 36-year-old to a deal in the 2007 offseason.
It didn’t take long before both parties realized that this was a mistake. Hardaway played just 16 games for the Heat before the team waived him just four months after initially signing him.
During this forgettable run, Penny averaged a miserable 3.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.2 steals in 20.3 minutes per contest.
Joe Johnson made a name for himself during his stint with the Atlanta Hawks, earning a spot to the All-Star squad in six consecutive seasons. Simply put, he was not the same guy when he joined the Heat in 2016.
Johnson arrived in Miami as a free agent in the middle of the 2015-16 campaign, after being waived by the Brooklyn Nets. The former All-NBA Team member did not sit too long on the waiver wire, finding his name on several Heat news outlets as the team pounced on him as soon as he was cleared.
His spell in Miami, however, was likewise short-lived. Johnson played in only 24 games for the Heat and opted to walk away as a free agent the following summer.
Amar’e Stoudemire was an absolute stud in his prime. The same cannot be said about the Stoudemire who joined the Heat in the final season of his career.
Stoudemire had a pretty tumultuous final few years in the NBA. His mind was still fully intent on carrying on, but his body simply did not feel the same way. Similar to Payton and Hardaway, Stoudemire’s final stop was in Miami. This was during the 2015-16 season, where he was actually able to suit up for 52 games for the Heat. That’s actually not bad considering how he was already 33 at that time, and the amount of lengthy injury spells he had on the sidelines during his earlier years.
The former six-time All-Star did not do much in Miami, though, averaging just 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game. After a season with the Heat, Stoudemire finally called it quits.
It’s a bit of a different story for Lamar Odom, who himself used his spell with the Heat to propel himself to greater heights — be it intentionally or otherwise.
After spending the first four years of his career with the Los Angeles Clippers, Odom entered free agency. He ultimately ended up signing with the Heat, where he ended up playing for just one season.
O’Neal helped the Heat to their first NBA title in franchise history the following season, so in that respect, Odom’s “sacrifice” will forever be treasured by the Miami faithful.