The Miami Heat have only been in the NBA for 32 years and got their start back in the 1988 to 1989 season. So how did a team with a mere 15 wins in its inaugural season change course and capture 61 victories just a few years later? To understand how that could even be possible, you need to take a look back at the history of one of the greatest teams in NBA history.
The Beginning Years
In 1987, there was a huge push across the country to expand the NBA and add additional franchises. A former NBA player by the name of Billy Cunningham alongside Lewis Schaffel and the owner of Carnival Cruise Lines were on a quest to bring one of these franchises to Miami, Florida. Despite competition from another potential team down in Orlando, the Miami Heat were formally approved for the season beginning in 1988 (Orlando would begin a year later).
The name was chosen via a naming contest like most NBA teams, though the winning name, “Miami Vice,” was bypassed because it was the name of a television show. The first year as a team was filled with struggle, as the team was loaded with mostly novice players and a few veterans like Pat Cummings and Dwayne Washington. The inaugural season was accompanied by a lot of time on the road, as the Heat were somehow in the Western Conference.
The Miami Heat began a trend in its first few years that would keep the team from advancing to the playoffs until 1996: Drafting players straight out of college. It seemed that both college players and veteran players struggled to adapt to the playing style of the newly-formed Miami Heat. That was until there was a complete shift in the roster in 1994, followed by Schaffel and Cunningham selling their shares of the team.
The addition of Micky Arison (the son of the Carnival Cruise Lines owner) as an owner of the Miami Heat brought Pat Riley as the president and coach of the Miami Heat in 1995. The team roster was nearly emptied with the trading away of 10 players for the addition of 3. This brought the Miami Heat down to a mere eight players (later nine) in a game against the Chicago Bulls, which the Heat somehow won.
Over the next few years, the Miami Heat added the likes of Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, and Shaquille O’Neal to the roster. This led the team to a franchise first: A division title in 1997. The team once again saw good trade deals with the drafting of players like Dwyane Wade and Lamar Odom. After 18 years as an official NBA team, the Miami Heat eventually won the NBA finals in 6 games against the Mavericks.
The Miami Heat have actually only used 2 logos since the team was first created back in 1988. The second logo used by the Heat is simply a modification and an upgrade of the first.
1988 - 1999
From 1988 to 1999, Miami Heat players sported a mostly white jersey with red lettering spelling “Heat.” The letters and numbers had a white border surrounded by another black border.
2001 - Today
Since 2001, the Miami Heat have used a dark red jersey. The name “Miami” is written on the front in white letters and is outlined in black. There also appears to be a black vertical stripe down the sides of the jersey.
2019 - Today
The current Heat get-up uses the same Miami lettering, but they’ve adopted a black and white color scheme, rather than dark red.