The Heat started their inaugural season of 1988-89 with an NBA-record 17 straight losses on their way to a league-worst 15-67 record. Coached by ex-Detroit assistant Ron Rothstein, the team featured rookies Rony Seikaly, Kevin Edwards, Grant Long and Sylvester Gray and vets Rory Sparrow, Jon Sundvold, Pat Cummings, Dwayne Washington and Billy Thompson.
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Years 2 and 3 of the Heat were not much different than Year 1, as the team finished 18-66 and 24-58, respectively. But with youngsters such as Glen Rice, Rony Seikaly and Sherman Douglas, there was reason for optimism in the future.
3 of 10John W. McDonough/SI
Before the 1991-92 season, Kevin Lougherty replaced Ron Rothstein as coach. The team added a sharpshooter in first-round draft pick Steve Smith and finished with a 38-44 record, making the playoffs for the first time (where they were swept by Michael Jordan's Bulls in three games).Smith made the NBA All-Rookie team, and Glen Rice finished 10th in the NBA in scoring.
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The Heat won their first playoff series in 1993-94, coming back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Atlanta Hawks. The next season the team traded Rony Seikaly and Steve Smith and finished 32-50.
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In 1995 the team made headlines by signing Pat Riley to serve as president and coach. Within two years Riley had added Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Dan Majerle, P.J. Brown, Jamal Mashburn and Voshon Lenard to the Heat, but the team was knocked out of the playoffs again by the Bulls.
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In the late '90s, the Heat and the Knicks engaged in the NBA's fiercest rivalry, meeting in the playoffs four times in four straight years. The highlight of the rivalry was a fight in the '98 playoffs between ex-Charlotte teammates Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson, which will forever be remembered for Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy clinging to Mourning's leg.
7 of 10Bob Rosato/SI
In 2001, the Heat were poised for a big playoff run after acquiring Eddie Jones, Anthony Mason and Brian Grant in the offseason. But Alonzo Mourning missed 69 games due to a kidney ailment, and Miami was bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Charlotte.
8 of 10John Biever/SI
After floundering for the early part of the `90s, Miami drafted guard Dwyane Wade with the fifth overall pick in the 2003 draft, and things immediately turned around. Sparked by Wade and newly acquired Lamar Odom, the Heat defeated New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs before being eliminated by Indiana in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Despite the loss, Wade's sensational rookie season (16 points per game, four rebounds, four assists) had Miami fans excited about the Heat again.
9 of 10John Biever/SI
By the 2004-05 season the Heat had gotten a makeover. Stan Van Gundy became the head coach, and second-year player Dwyane Wade was turning heads throughout the league. But the biggest addition was Shaquille O'Neal, who led the Heat to a 59-23 record, the second-best finish in franchise history. Unfortunately, the season ended on a low note as injuries to Wade and O'Neal took their toll during the playoffs and the Heat lost the deciding game of the Eastern Conference finals to Detroit.
10 of 10Bob Rosato/SI
The Heat were poised for big things in 2005-06, but after a lackluster 11-10 start, the team needed a spark. It arrived when Pat Riley took over as head coach after the resignation of Stan Van Gundy. With the addition of Jason Williams, Antoine Walker, James Posey and Gary Payton, the Heat finished 52-30 and exorcised their demons by defeating the Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals to advance to their first-ever NBA Finals.
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