5. Heat acquires Alonzo Mourning and trades away Glen Rice.
At the time the biggest trade in franchise history, the acquisition of Alonzo Mourning felt like the first time the Miami Heat joined the big boys. Until 1996, Miami had always scraped and clawed its way to victory, using energy and grit to win games. Though letting go of Glen Rice, the most successful player to put on a Heat jersey at the time, was difficult, you felt like the move finally took the Heat to a place where it would no longer be looked upon as the underdog at all times. The pairing of Mourning and Tim Hardaway would soon elevate the franchise to levels it could have never imagined when the team formed a decade earlier.
The move to acquire Mourning has continued to pay off long after his playing career as he is a major presence in the front office. His involvement with the team is just another example that points to the overall family approach the team preaches. Even though his mid-'90s teams never got over the hump, Mourning now owns three NBA championship rings with the Miami Heat logo on them.
4. Miami Acquires Shaquille O'Neal.
Caaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnn youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu diggggggggg itttttttttttttt!!??
Coming off a promising Dwyane Wade rookie season, one in which a young and athletic Heat team advanced to the second round of the playoffs, Miami was feeling pretty good about its future -- and then decided to completely change it. In one of the biggest moves in NBA history, on July 14, 2004, Miami traded Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Briant Grant, and a first-round pick (Jordan Farmar) to the Los Angeles Lakers for Shaquille O'Neal. The move instantly catapulted the Heat from cute young upstart to title contender, and contend for a title it did.
In his first year with the team, Shaq averaged 22.9 points and 10.4 rebounds, narrowly losing the MVP vote to Steve Nash. The team itself would come one game short of the finals in his first year, losing in Game 7 of the East finals to Detroit, a game many believe the Heat would have won had Dwyane Wade been healthy. The next season, the Heat would get over the hump with Shaquille and defeat the Dallas Mavericks for the franchise's first NBA championship.
Yeah, the move paid off.