The Miami Heat have been one of the more successful franchises in the NBA since the turn of the century. They have had remarkable success, considering they were an expansion team that joined the league in 1988 and they have Pat Riley to thank for that. After being mired in mediocrity for much of their early existence, Riley's arrival in 1995 changed the fortunes of the franchise.
As their coach and team president, Riley led the Heat to the kind of success they had never seen before in the 1990s but they were never able to go all the way and win the championship. The turn of the century would change all of that, as the Heat elevated themselves to serious contenders for the title in the mid-2000s and they have been going strong, for the most part, since then.
The Spurs (117), Celtics (111), and the Warriors (107) are the only other teams to have even hit triple figures for wins in that time. While the Heat do have Riley to thank for all this success, they have also been blessed to have some incredible players suit up for them who have made this possible. Here's a look at just how they have managed to accomplish all of this.
The Dwyane Wade And Shaquille O'Neal Years
Dwyane Wade's arrival in 2003 was what set up in motion all the success they would go on to have. Wade took them back to the playoffs in his rookie season and when Shaquille O'Neal arrived in 2004, the Heat were on their way to the promised land. The two of them led the Heat to the Conference Finals in 2005 before winning it all the following year against the Mavericks. They would fail to replicate that kind of success, however, and O'Neal departed in 2008. The Heat actually wouldn't win a playoff series from 2007 to 2010, but things were about to change in a big way.
The Big 3
The Heat and Riley wanted to make a splash after their postseason failures and they did just that by assembling the Big 3 of Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh in 2010. The trio led the team to 4 straight NBA Finals from 2011 to 2014 and won 2 championships in the process. By making it to 4 Finals in a row, the Heat actually became at the time, just the third franchise after the Celtics and the Lakers to accomplish that feat. LeBron's departure in 2014 combined with health issues for Wade and Bosh meant they struggled post-2014, but success wasn't too far away for Miami.
The Jimmy Butler Era
Jimmy Butler arrived via trade in 2019 and the Heat immediately took off. In his very first season, they returned to the Finals before falling short against the Lakers in 6 games. He then nearly led them there again this past postseason, but the Heat lost in agonizing fashion in 7 games to the Celtics in the Conference Finals.
Despite these near-misses, the Heat aren't going away just yet and they are bringing back most of that team that was so successful last season. They remain one of the premier teams in the Eastern Conference and it wouldn't be too surprising to see them extend their lead at the top in terms of playoff wins in the coming years.