Miami Heat: The 25 Greatest Players in Franchise History

Miami Heat: The 25 Greatest Players in Franchise History

4. Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O'Neal Miami Heat

This is a selection that will be probably met with mixed reaction from Heat Nation, but the bottom line is this—the Big Aristotle was the piece that lifted the Heat from just a playoff team to a championship contender.

Shaq was brought to the Heat during the 2004 offseason after the Lakers decided to keep Kobe Bryant in the purple and gold rather than the 7-foot center. In his first season in Miami, he finished second in MVP voting to Steve Nash while leading the team to 59 victories and was one game away from reaching the NBA Finals.

As Dwyane Wade matured and became the Heat’s go-to option in 2006, Shaq took a back seat and played a willing sidekick role in helping Miami to its first-ever NBA title in 2006.

While his tenure in South Beach ended on a sour note due to an altercation with Riley, which led to a trade involving the Phoenix Suns, O’Neal was a major player in the Heat’s resurgence as an elite team.

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