STILL THE ONE
While retaining the nucleus of transcendent stars Shaquille O'Neal (here, against Cavs forward Drew Gooden in March) and Dwyane Wade, the Heat reshaped its roster during the off-season by acquiring forward Antoine Walker, guard Jason Williams and swingman James Posey in a blockbuster five-team, 13-player trade, the largest deal in NBA history.
A DASH OF FLASH
In his third season in the league guard Dwyane Wade (soaring here against the Cavs) established himself as one of the five best players in the NBA. He ranked fifth in scoring (27.2), sixth in steals (1.95) and set a career high with 5.7 rebounds per game. His 6.7 assists per game also ranked best on the team. He finished sixth in the MVP voting.
THE HOMETOWN KID
No Heat player has deeper ties to Miami than forward Udonis Haslem, who was born in Miami and won three state championships at Miami High in the 1990s. The 6' 8" forward (here, against the Knicks last November) averaged 9.3 points and 7.8 rebounds and in April set a career high for points (24) in a game against Philadelphia.
THE HEARTBEAT OF THE HEAT
Few athletes in any sport are as admired as Alonzo Mourning. The veteran center, who overcame a life-threatening kidney disease, put off retirement for a year with the goal of winning his first NBA championship. At age 36 he ranked third in the league with 2.66 blocks per game and shot 59.7%, a career high.
A WALK AMONG CAVS
Perhaps no member of the Heat sacrificed his game more than forward Antoine Walker, a three-time All-Star who came into the season averaging 19.8 points per game. As the team's sixth man, Walker (here, against Cleveland in March) led the team in three-pointers made (137), ranked fourth on the team in scoring (12.2) and fifth in rebounding (5.1).
A RING AROUND A POSEY
Swingman James Posey (here, against the Lakers in January) was another former starter turned role player who sacrificed personal stats--he averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds--for the good of the team. "He's the kind of unselfish player that helps this team thrive," said Alonzo Mourning.
THIS GLOVE WAS A PERFECT FIT
He started just 25 games, his lowest total in 17 NBA seasons, but point guard Gary Payton (here, against the Pistons in February) provided firepower off the bench. He averaged 7.7 points as a backup to Jason Williams. "You make sacrifices," said Payton, a nine-time All-Star.
EYES ON THE PRIZE
Content to defer to the team's star players, Jason Williams started 56 games and averaged 12.3 points and 4.9 assists. He set career highs for field goal percentage (.442) and three-point field goal percentage (.372). "Today it's about winning a championship," said the 30-year-old Williams. "That's all it's about."