The Miami Heat entered the NBA in 1988, so they are a relatively new franchise. However, they have already established themselves as one of the better organizations in basketball.
The Heat have won three championships, and they have had the pleasure of watching some of the best players in history walk through their doors.
In particular, Miami has had quite a few impressive big men don its colors.
Here are the top five centers in Heat history:
5. Hassan Whiteside
Hassan Whiteside has certainly had an interesting NBA career.
He began his tenure in the league as a project of the Sacramento Kings in 2010, but spent just two years with the club before being waived.
After being out of the NBA for a couple of seasons, Whiteside joined the Heat in November 2014 and had a terrific debut campaign with the team, averaging 11.8 points, 10 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game in 48 appearances.
Whiteside spent five years in Miami in total, averaging double-doubles every season and even leading the league with 14.1 boards a night during the 2016-17 campaign.
However, Whiteside was very limited offensively, and his attitude and effort level were always causes for concern. His declining play and reduced effectiveness due to the changing NBA landscape over the last couple of years resulted in the Heat trading him to the Portland Trail Blazers this past summer.
4. Rony Seikaly
Rony Seikaly was an original member of the Heat.
He spent the first six years of his career in Miami from 1988 through 1994, averaging double-doubles in five straight seasons between 1989 and 1994.
Seikaly was so good in the low post that he earned the nickname “The Spin Doctor,” which is pretty apt considering the Lebanese star is now a DJ. He was also terrific at drawing fouls, averaging 6.1 free-throw attempts per game during his tenure in South Beach.
He wasn’t a particularly great defender, but he did register 1.4 blocks per game throughout his time with the Heat, and he was very good on the glass, posting 10.4 rebounds a night.
Seikaly wasn’t a member of any of the truly good Miami squads, but he was a fine player in his day.
3. Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh is mainly known as a power forward, but he played quite a bit of center during his six-year stay with the Heat.
Bosh never recorded 20 points per game in Miami, but he was also playing third fiddle to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, so his shot attempts were down.
You can also criticize him for his lack of rebounding (he averaged just 7.3 rebounds per game with the Heat), but Bosh more than made up for it with his versatility on both ends.
A true definition of a stretch big, Bosh turned into a very solid three-point shooter over the latter half of his time in South Florida, and his ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket was very valuable.
Sadly, Bosh’s tenure in the NBA was cut short due to persistent blood clots, resulting in the perennial All-Star’s career ending at the young age of 32. But there is no doubting just how good he was in his prime.
Bosh helped Miami hang a couple of banners at American Airlines Arena, and now, his No. 1 is hanging in the rafters thanks to his efforts.
2. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal joined the Heat during the summer of 2004 after coming over in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Alongside of Wade, O’Neal instantly vaulted Miami into title contention during his first season with the team, as the Heat made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before falling to the Detroit Pistons in seven games.
As a matter of fact, many argue that Shaq should have won the MVP award over Steve Nash that season.
The following year, O’Neal’s skills began to clearly erode, but he was still good enough to average 20 and nine and help lead Miami to its first NBA championship.
Wade gets most of the credit for that title due to his spectacular postseason performance, but people tend to forget just how important of a role Shaq played throughout that run.
Overall, O’Neal spent just three-and-a-half seasons in South Beach, but he was the driving force in elevating the franchise to a new level.
Shaq was hardly the same player in Miami as he was in Los Angeles, but he did enough for the Heat to get his No. 32 retired back in 2016.
1. Alonzo Mourning
If you put anyone else here, you’re wrong.
No, Alonzo Mourning never delivered a title to Miami in his prime (he later won one during his second go-around with the Heat in 2006). Yes, his peak was cut short as a result of a kidney disorder.
But Mourning was the first player who truly put the Heat on the map.
Miami acquired Mourning via trade in November 1995, and in his first year with the club, he averaged 23.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.
The following year, Zo led the Heat to an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
Mourning spent six seasons in Miami during his first stint with the club, making five All-Star appearances and winning a pair of Defensive Player of the Year awards.
He then returned to the Heat during the 2004-05 campaign, and the next year, he played a rather pivotal bench role in helping Miami win its first championship. He would go on to play with the Heat through 2008 before retiring.
Overall, Mourning spent 11 seasons in South Beach, logging 16 points, 8.1 boards and 2.7 blocks a night.