On the eve of the Miami Heat’s 35th season in 2022-23, the Sun Sentinel is unveiling a series of “5 at 35” illustrations by staff writer Ira Wunderman, covering the franchise’s 3 1/2 decades. .

After opening the series with a look at The five greatest games in team history, Five Franchise-Changing Momentsof the team Biggest celebrity fans, Five major personalities Years later, Five Notable Hat Lifers And Rivalries that have defined the franchise.we started with our position-by-position breakdown. Top five shooting guards, Point guards, Small forward And Power forward Since the franchise’s 1988 debut, today is moving to the center.

Like the debate between Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh, Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O’Neal, and the center provides its own complexity when it comes to longevity vs. dominance.

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1. Alonzo Mourning. Until Dwyane Wade came along, it looked like Alonzo Mourning would go down as the greatest player in franchise history, arriving on November 3, 1995 in a trade with the Charlotte Hornets coached by Pete Riley. was in agreement with

Through the ups and downs of a playoff showdown with the New York Knicks, a kidney ailment and a brief stint in free agency, Morning returned to contribute to the Heat’s 2006 NBA championship, the Basketball Hall of Fame. I became the first player to join. His body of work with the Heat, his number 33 was the first to be retired by the franchise.

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2. Shaquille O’Neal. Of course, Shaq’s No. 32 is also in the rafters of FTX Arena, standing as the most visited presence in those 3 1/2 summer decades.

He arrived on July 14, 2004 promising to bring South Florida a championship and delivered with Wade in 2006, after initially falling short in the 2005 Eastern Conference finals.

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Although the tenure was ultimately brief, dealt to the Phoenix Suns in 2008 amid a personality clash with Pat Riley, his impact was significant.

3. Bam Adibao. As the only active player in that quintet, it’s easy to imagine Adebayo eventually moving up the list, certainly past Shaq, if only because of longevity.

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The Heat have basically never had a big man that Adebayo has the ability to defend all five positions and then serve as the foundation of the offense.

When the ball went into the zoo, it never came out. When he went into the shaq, he never came out. With Adebayo, it’s almost like begging him to score.

With the goal of emulating Udonis Haslem’s consistent power and surpassing Haslem’s franchise career rebounding leader, Adebayo could go down as a Heat center for good old age.

4. Rony Seikaly. There couldn’t have been a better starting ambassador in the middle during the early summer seasons than the Lebanese native who was raised in Greece and starred at Syracuse.

Seikaly’s international background and healthy lifestyle bolstered a Moribund expansion team, serving as the Heat’s man in the middle as the franchise’s first draft pick during the franchise’s first six seasons.

To this date, he still holds the franchise single-game rebounding record set on March 34, 1993 against Washington.

5. Brian Grant. The undersized Grant was part of some of the hottest rosters during his tenure with the team from 2000 to 2004.

He stepped into the middle when mourning was sidelined by kidney disease during the 2000-01 season and then was part of Wade’s rookie roster that reached the Eastern Conference semifinals.

As for his overall value, he stood out as a center in the 2004 offseason trade that landed O’Neal from the Los Angeles Lakers.

Hassan Whiteside was No. 3 on our list of the top Heat centers when we put together our list for the franchise’s 30th anniversary in 2017. But in retrospect, it looks like his figures were all empty calories.

Others worth noting include Joel Anthony, Chris Anderson, Isaac Austin, Kevin Willis and Jermaine O’Neal.

Next: A look at the top sixth men over the years as the franchise turns 35.

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