Heat hate pre-dates LeBron, Bosh and 2010 free agency
Alonzo Mourning, right, of the Miami Heat, and New York Knicks Charles Oakley grapple during a fight in the closing seconds of Game 4 of the first round playoff series Thursday, April 30, 1998, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Mourning was ejected from the game. Holding on to Mourning's left leg is Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy. The Knicks won 90-85 to force a fifth game. (MARK LENNIHAN, AP / April 29, 1998)
Since a Heat team that has yet to play a single game made such a compilation, it got us thinking about the most-hated players over the Heat's first 22 seasons, before LeBron James and Chris Bosh evoked this latest ire.
The difference is we'll go with players who actually have already worn a Heat uniform in competition, actually managed to anger someone while in team colors.
And if you disagree with the selections? Well, then hate on us, since that seems to be the prevailing emotion of the hour.
1. Alonzo Mourning: The scowl, the swinging of Jeff Van Gundy from his foot, the moment of rage against Larry Johnson that seemingly set the Heat's championship hopes back a decade. Understand, the current civic-minded, paternal Zo is not the same Zo who arrived in 1995 from the Charlotte Hornets and bought into Pat Riley's us-against-the-world fervor. When it comes to the Heat, that Zo was the franchise's angriest man ever.
2. James Posey: The defensive presence during the 2005-06 championship season was undeniable. And the flopping drove opponents to distraction. But there also was the randomness of an anger that severely raised the temperature of more than a few Heat- Chicago Bulls games over the years. The 6-foot-8 forward had this nasty habit of not-so-randomly running into opponents on the way down court. At times, Posey had the glassy-eyed look, of, well, a crazy man.
3. Bruce Bowen: Long before his championship days with the San Antonio Spurs, Bowen was stepping under jump-shooters, crowding scorers, flopping with regularity. Like so many defensive stoppers, Bowen had a way of getting under the opponents' skin that wasn't always purely accidental. And Bowen played to the role. He embraced the villain role, while also remaining one of the Heat's most humble players.
4. Kurt Thomas: The 6-foot-9 power forward nearly obliterated Danny Schayes' face with a punch during one practice. Schayes threatened a lawsuit in the wake of the incident, before being talked out of it by Pat Riley. "Kurt hit me and then ran behind me," said Schayes, who called Thomas a "punk." Thomas arrived to the NBA with anger-management issues from his time at TCU and it took a while to filter him down to the eye-popping glares that remain a staple of his enduring career.
5. Keith Askins: The current Heat assistant coach was Bruce Bowen before Bowen was Bowen. It could be argued that Askins set the bar for the Heat's lineage of pesky defensive stoppers. Askins served as Kevin Loughery's designated hit man, often inserted by the franchise's second coach to send messages to opponents. Being the loyal solider, Askins obliged. The 6-foot-8 forward nearly decapitated New Jersey's Keith Van Horn with one hit, was at the center of the Heat's 1994 playoff brawl in Atlanta, and left an enduring elbow imprint on Indiana's Antonio Davis.
6. Jamaal Magloire: We'll cede the floor to Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who last season so famously uttered of the 6-foot-11 bruiser: "Magloire's job is to beat on people and he's not in there because of his offensive skill. He's like those guys in hockey who come in and beat people up. Some of those guys can't skate, but they have a role. Jamaal Magloire has a role and that role is to beat the hell out of people." If Magic center Dwight Howard was doing the voting, Magloire would be much higher on this list.
7. Anthony Mason: If Mason played for your team, he automatically makes your franchise's all-time "hated" list. The rare player who employed the snort as part of his game, Mason entered not as much with a scowl, as with a sneer, as if he knew he was going to break something or someone. With a barrel chest and upper-body muscles that were decidedly out of proportion, the 6-foot-8 power forward defined the word "menacing." He was all that, and more.
8. Antoine Walker: The 6-foot-9 power forward was the definition of annoying, between those shoulder shimmies after 3-pointers and all that flopping. Undeniable talented. But also undeniable cocky. The type of player who carried himself with an arrogance that surpassed his talents, especially during his waning years, such as with the Heat.
9. Damon Jones: The 3-point specialist affixed himself to Shaquille O'Neal during his lone season with the Heat, carrying himself as if he was worthy of being part of the entourage. He was the NBA's original Donkey to Shaq's Shrek. And those not-so-subtle hand signals after converted 3-pointers hardly endeared him to opponents.
10. Tim Hardaway: The 6-foot point guard just never shut up. Ever. He was talking trash long before Gary Payton ever arrived in South Florida. Long before his ill-conceived comments on social issues, Hardaway was offering up a 48-minute diatribe in opponents' ears on game nights. And when he made his 3-point daggers, which he did quite often, he would let you know about that, as well.
Honorable mention: P.J. Brown (turned Charlie Ward into a human helicopter during the height of Heat- Knicks), Kevin Willis (let his muscles do the talking, and was truly in love with those muscles), Udonis Haslem (sometimes relentless grit rubs opponents the wrong way) and Gary Payton (confronted Dwyane Wade while leaving the court during halftime of one playoff game).
Ira Winderman can be reached at iwinderman@SunSentinel.com.