With 2022-23 marking the Miami Heat’s 35th season, the Sun Sentinel is unveiling a series of “5 at 35″ reflections from staff writer Ira Winderman, who has covered the entirety of the franchise’s 3 1/2 decades.
After opening the series with a look at the five greatest games in the team’s history, five franchise-altering moments, the team’s biggest celebrity fans, five of the biggest personalities over the years, five notable Heat Lifers and rivalries that have defined the franchise, we began our position-by-position breakdown with the top five shooting guards since the franchise’s 1988 inception, moving today to point guard.
1. Tim Hardaway. If it wasn’t Michael Jordan getting in the way, it was the New York Knicks standing as a playoff roadblock. And, still, the killer crossovers and 3-point daggers kept coming from an unrelenting bulldog of a point guard.
If Alonzo Mourning’s acquisition at the start of 1995-96 legitimized the Heat, Hardaway’s acquisition at that season’s trade deadline set in motion the reality of playoff credibility that has not ceased since.
It is only natural a Hall of Famer tops this list.
2. Goran Dragic. This is not a case of recency bias, with Dragic only a season removed from the current roster.
This is a case of the Heat, with Dragic, casting a true floor leader at the position for the first time since Hardaway was hoisting 3-pointers in critical playoff moments against the Knicks. And unlike Hardaway, Dragic was with the Heat when they made an NBA Finals.
Heat lore has featured few pure point guards at this level of talent, with Dragic the only other Heat point guard beyond Hardaway to make an All-Star Game while with the team.
3. Jason Williams. The enduring portrait of Jason Williams was the guard standing awash in champagne in the locker room in Dallas after the Heat had won the 2006 NBA championship, daring anyone to call him a loser anymore.
With his streak shooting, crafty handle and locker-room charisma, he was nothing short of the right player at the right time in what ultimately turned into a brief three-season Heat tenure for White Chocolate.
4. Mario Chalmers. The placement here almost comes off as short shrift, considering he was a key component on four NBA Finals teams and two championship rosters.
The reality is there almost always was another primary ballhandler alongside, be it Dwyane Wade or LeBron James.
Still, Chalmers started every regular-season game during the Heat’s runs to the 2012, ‘13 and ‘14 Finals.
5. Sherman Douglas. Before there was Hardaway, Wade and even Jimmy Butler stepping up to take and make big shots, there was The General, after his selection out of Syracuse at the top of the second round in 1989.
Stocky by build and seemingly unathletic by approach, Douglas could probe with the best of them, all the way to an 18.5 scoring average in 1991-92.
Still, stopping at those five does make for difficult omissions at point guard among the likes of Steve Smith, Rory Sparrow, Bimbo Coles and Brian Shaw.
Up next: We continue our positional evaluations, with the top five small forwards over the years, as the franchise turns 35.