Nov 10, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) is pressured by Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Bulls won 98-95. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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2016 is in the history books and 2017 is upon us. This past year we saw the Miami Heat go through a lot of changes. The face of the franchise is gone, the losses out-weigh the wins and the future is cloudy. Lucky for you, the All U Can Heat staff is here to recap the year that was and look ahead to what’s next.
1. What is in your Miami Heat 2016 time capsule?
Simon Smith (@SimonABenedict): A year of bad luck. Chris Bosh’s health, followed by injury after injury has meant the transition phase into a new era has been far from smooth.
Cory Sanning (@SanningNBA): More valleys than peaks. It definitely was a year most Heat fans will want to soon put behind them.
Frank Urbina (@frankurbina_): Heat – Hornets, Game 6, of the 2016 NBA Playoffs. Miami was down three games to two in the series, with a road game in Charlotte staring them in the face. Season on the line, one minute remaining, the Hornets on a 7-0 run, Dwyane Wade gave Heat fans one last performance to remember him by.
Multiple clutch shots. Hitting his first three-pointers in months. Yelling at the annoying, “Purple Shirt Guy.” This vintage Wade takeover had a little bit of everything. And though he went on to have better games statistically in the following series against Toronto, Game 6 in Charlotte felt like the last time we truly saw classic D-Wade. Carrying the Heat to an unlikely playoff victory, just like he’d done countless other times.
Ivan Mora (@moraivan): I have to agree with Frank Urbina. Wade’s Heat Hornets series. Amazing last run by Wade. Left us with a memorable playoff experience. Besides that, the 2016-2017 season has been a sad one. Too many injuries paired up with so many close losses has many Heat fans, including myself, frustrated and eager for the trade deadline and offseason.
Allana Tachauer (@AllanaTachauer): Ebbs and flows. Our playoff run definitely stands out most, as not only did we just fall short of making the Eastern Conference Finals but it was a tremendously fun postseason to watch. Especially when it comes to our matchup against the Charlotte Hornets. But of course, Chris Bosh’s second blood clot diagnosis comes to mind right away as well. And then there was Dwyane Wade breaking all of Heat Nation’s hearts when he decided to leave and join the Chicago Bulls. I would certainly throw re-signing Tyler Johnson in there too though. I was so excited when that happened, and the story of him throwing up makes it that much better.
Kristopher Keaton (@kmkeaton2): A shot back into reality. 2010-2014 was the most fun time period of my sports fandom. Championships, exciting basketball, and fun on a nightly basis. 2016 represented the complete opposite. Injuries, losing great players, and a feeling of purgatory. A fall back into the abyss. Hopefully 2017 is a step in the right direction.
May 1, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) shoots over Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin (7) during the first half in game seven of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
2. What will you remember most about 2016 when it comes to the Heat?
Smith: Unfortunately, the first thing that comes to mind is the complete breakup of the Big 3. Dwyane Wade’s messy departure followed by the recurrence of Bosh’s unfortunate health situation meant that ultimately, 2016 was a year of transition. It was always going to be tough to recover from losing such icons of the Heat. But I’m not sure many anticipated a 10-24 record heading into the new year.
Sanning: Transition. The end of multiple eras. Several scars.
Urbina: Simple. Wade’s departure. The Heat’s franchise leader in just about every important stat announcing that he would be, “going home,” to play for the Chicago Bulls felt like a dagger through the heart. When LeBron left, at least I understood why he was doing it. And the Chris Bosh situation is definitely unfortunate. But neither of those players ever really felt like they were our guys. Wade, on the other hand, had been a major presence in Miami since his rookie campaign, fourteen seasons ago. To this day, I can still remember being in middle school and talking to my friends about his game-winner against Charlotte in the 2004 Playoffs. (I hadn’t noticed ‘til writing this, but wow, Wade has really tormented Hornets fans a lot throughout the years.) So to see him leave the Heat after so many clutch shots, agonizing losses, championships, and everything in between, was painful. I don’t care how anyone tries to spin it.
Mora: A new era for Miami Heat. A completely different roster. The breakup of the big 3. Wades departure. It all happened so fast, that it left us heartbroken and maybe a little excited for the rebuilding process. More heartbroken than anything.
Tachauer: The end of an era. I don’t think anyone ever expected Wade to leave, and although there is so much to be said about the team’s 2016 journey, that will absolutely stand out the most to me.
Keaton: Losing Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Not much else I can say without tearing up.
Dec 16, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) runs down court during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. The Clippers won 102-98. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
3. What is your #2017Goal for the Miami Heat?
Smith: In the words of Pat Riley, land ‘a whale’. As impressive as Hassan Whiteside has been, he’s not on the level that Riley has been accustomed to targeting. His main target for this season, Kevin Durant, was unsuccessful.
A bold prediction – Riley will be going all out for Stephen Curry this offseason. Curry has gone from winning back-to-back MVP’s, to not even being the best player on his own team. Bill Simmons raised some very valid points at the 1:11:15 mark of his recent podcast re: Curry’s body language.
Further, listen to Brian Windhorst detail on a recent ESPN TrueHoop podcast at the 6:30 mark detailing Curry’s Christmas Day performance. Despite some recent failed pursuits, never underestimate Riley!
Urbina: I’m with Simon on this. I’d love nothing more than for Pat Riley to silence his critics by going out and signing a big free agent. Blake Griffin, Gordon Hayward, Kyle Lowry, it doesn’t matter. Any of them. It would show the rest of the league that Miami is still a preferred destination for star players looking for a change of scenery. Plus, that, coupled with the addition of a high draft pick, could signal the Heat’s rapid return to NBA prominence.
Mora: I would love to see a famous Pat Riley trade before the deadline. We know with this roster, we aren’t going to make the playoffs, so hopefully Riley starts the rebuilding process earlier than the offseason and starts making some trades. Keep their young core intact and pray for a good trade and better offseason acquisitions in the draft.
Tachauer: This is threefold for me. First, I would like us to NOT TRADE GORAN DRAGIC. I know at this point I sound like a broken record, but I really feel as though it would be a huge mistake. Injuries aside, he is playing out of his mind so far this season, and finally has a young, eager unit ready to run the floor with him in command.
However, I would love Pat Riley to pull off some sort of monster trade at the deadline. Not necessarily in terms of scoring a big name (or two), but just bringing aboard help that will turn things enough to actually make the postseason. And third, I’m ready for Riley to reel in that whale he was trying to catch in Kevin Durant. As long as it’s not Blake Griffin, shudder. (It should also go without saying that the most important goal is NOT TO TANK.)
Keaton: Move Goran Dragic, POSSIBLY move Whiteside and get Riley to step away. Very much wishful thinking. But seriously, I want to feel like the progress is being made and not this feeling of stagnation. Landing a big fish would be nice, but I think depth is more important.
Dec 7, 2016; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Malik Monk (5) makes a lay up against Valparaiso Crusaders guard Micah Bradford (1) and guard Lexus Williams (15) and center Derrik Smits (21) in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Valparaiso 87-63. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
4. It’s the year 2027, and your bouncing a small child on your knee (maybe it’s even yours) and telling him/her about 2017, and why it was such an important year in Heat history. What are you telling them about?
Smith: I’ll be telling them that for the second time in less than a decade, the Heat were able to procure a two-time MVP winner away from the team which they have spent their entire career. Curry can ask Bosh how hard it is to play second-fiddle (or third-fiddle) to a fellow superstar. But when that player just became the first ever unanimous winner of the MVP award, it hits a whole new level. It’s one thing to say you’re fine with sharing the shots and the spotlight. But as history has shown, it’s much harder to put in action.
Urbina: I’m at a holiday party, and just finished watching the Heat defeat the Utah Jazz, 101-91. Miami’s record is now 27-5 and I’m in a jovial mood. After noticing a random child sitting by himself, I tell him to come over so I could tell him about the year that changed Miami Heat basketball forever. That year, of course, is 2017.
After a trying 2016, which saw the Heat lose not only their greatest player ever, but also 60 games the following season, the team ended up with the fifth pick in the 2017 draft. To supplant the departure of Wade, they used that pick on Kentucky 2-guard Malik Monk. And we all know how that turned out. Multiple All-Star appearances, an immediate return to the playoffs, and eventually, a title. Even today, on January 2nd, 2027, his so-called replacement is still the face of the franchise, averaging 29 points a night to go with five boards and nine assists. The child, who had been quiet until then, smiles and nods in agreement. He opens up his winter jacket and reveals that he’s wearing a Malik Monk Heat jersey. I laugh, and think wow, 2016 was awful, but 2017 really made the Heat the most important team in town again.
Mora: The year Hassan Whiteside started the season averaging triple doubles with blocks. First player ever in NBA history to do so. After a forgetful 2016 season that saw them drop to last in the Eastern Conference, The Heat bounced back strong in the 2017 season with a more experienced young core and Whiteside playing superb All Star caliber basketball. Also the year we somehow got Boogie Cousins and Rudy Gay to start our 2017 championship run.
Tachauer: Can I be holding a puppy instead?
(Editor’s note: Sure.)
I would tell it that despite Wade leaving, the organization stayed afloat. The front office went hard at work to make sure its legacy was intact, by making moves at the trade deadline and during free agency. The team was scrappy as ever, fighting hard night after night, including the first round of the 2017 playoffs. Oh, and that in the end, Wade decided he made a mistake and returned to South Beach to live happily ever after. It was the worst of times, it was the best of times… it was Miami Heat Basketball.