Former NBA star Gilbert Arenas is a skeptic of Miami Heat culture.
The retired guard recently spoke about the organization’s iconic reputation and culture and argued that the Heat have never won a championship that wasn’t “bought.”
“What is the Heat culture?” he began.
After the Heat’s 2006 NBA title was brought up as an example of Heat culture, Arenas responded.
“Oh, because they traded for a generational player by the name of Shaquille O’Neal, brung in Gary Payton, brung in all these other players to build with Dwyane Wade so they can win a championship — that’s what the Heat culture is?” he said. “Because all their championships was bought with generational players. They wasn’t buildin’ nothin’. They didn’t build a team — they bought a team. They bought Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton and all them, and then the next championships they won, they bought LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Mike Miller and Ray Allen. They bought that.”
Arenas, who often makes headlines for his sports takes, also implied that if the Heat’s culture were legitimate, it would look more like the culture of the Golden State Warriors.
“They drafted those players and built them,” he said of the Warriors.
Arenas’ comments certainly may get under the skin of some Heat fans.
While Miami’s 2012 and 2013 titles are sometimes seen as controversial due to the overwhelming amount of talent the organization had during its Big 3 era, it’s much harder to build an argument against the Heat’s 2006 championship.
Wade, a homegrown star, put the basketball world on notice with an unforgettable run during the 2006 playoffs that culminated with him winning Finals MVP honors.
The Heat did bring in O’Neal to help them secure their first championship, but he was the No. 2 option to Wade during Miami’s run to the title. Moreover, Payton, who Arenas mentioned as another player the Heat “bought,” was merely a role player during the squad’s run to the 2006 title, as he didn’t start a single playoff game that season.
It’s also worth noting that the Heat have gained a reputation in recent years for finding diamonds in the rough and turning underrated prospects into quality players at the NBA level. Much of the organization’s success over the past few seasons has been owed to that, though the Heat are still looking for their first championship in roughly a decade.
If they get one soon, perhaps Arenas will become a believer in the organization’s culture.