The Miami Heat were founded in 1988 and has since become a prominent fixture in the NBA. Led by their visionary owner Micky Arison and astute basketball savant Pat Riley, the team quickly gained recognition for their unwavering commitment to excellence.

Under Riley’s leadership, the Heat forged a winning culture that has endured to this day. From drafting skilled players to executing shrewd trades, the team consistently built a strong roster capable of competing at the highest level. As a result, the Heat have clinched seven Eastern Conference titles and three NBA championships in their illustrious history. Considering the versatility of all seven squads, it might be a tall task, but we will attempt to rank the very best championship-bound teams from the franchise with the sixth-most Finals victories. 

7.  2013-14

It’s a very underrated stat that virtually the same championship Miami Heat squad was the victim of the San Antonio Spurs’ revenge the following season. Granted, the Heat lost Mike Miller and Shane Battier in free agency, but being short a few role players shouldn’t be an excuse for a super team fronted by LeBron James. 

The series was the complete opposite of the previous year’s back-and-forth affair, winning by an average of 18 ppg. Unfortunately for the Heat, Kawhi Leonard also emerged — as Dwayne Wade did several years before. Leonard averaged 23.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in the final three games, spending every minute on the other side of the floor guarding LeBron. The silver and black bench came up big, with reliable asset Patty Mills firing 56.5% from behind the arc. 

Chris Bosh was absent, managing over 11.3 points and 4.7 rebounds; Wade scored 21 points on 7-of-25 shooting in Games 4 and 5 combined. Overall, it’s the series that split up the superstars in South Beach. After the breakup, it took the Heat only five years to get back to the promised land. 

6. 2019-20 

The beginnings of Himmy Butler, aka Jimmy Buckets. The bubble wasn’t an easy time for any of the Association. After COVID-19 ravaged the world, the NBA created an innovative way to finish the season. 

Twenty-two eligible teams were quarantined at Disney World. With Heat Culture, Miami was able to thrive in a difficult environment. In the playoffs, the Heat made an unexpectedly deep playoff run, defeating favorites the Milwaukee Bucks and the third-seeded Boston Celtics in six games. Ultimately, the team stumbled against the Los Angeles Lakers in the championship — arguably the best regular-season team, prior to the pandemic. 

In the last game, Miami was plagued with shooting woes, falling to their opponent in the second-largest halftime deficit in NBA Finals history. Giannis Antetokounmpo criticized their run, telling The Athletic, “Miami was built to be an NBA bubble team.” Still, it’s hard to argue any of it was a fluke, considering the same core squad has made the Eastern Conference Finals three of the last four seasons. 

5. 2010-11

LeBron still had to wait another year before hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy. A putrid Finals performance, defined by JJ Barea locking up King James, overshadowed what was a playoff triumph up to that point. Before the Mavs series, the Heat amounted to an impressive 12-3 record against their opponents, obliterating Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago – the latter of which had the best record in the Association. 

Miami was favored heavily prior to the championship. However, the team’s mental toughness wasn’t quite there. The Big Three fell to a team of grit-and-grind veterans, standing by the sidelines as the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and Peja Stojaković.

Next season, Lebron vowed to rid the world of all jokes about his disappearances in the 4th quarter; he took a leadership role to reign over his kingdom, gesturing to his court with Finals rings on his fingers. 

4. 2022-23

This team makes it right in the middle of this list because of their unprecedented run. Only two 8th-seed teams have made the Finals, including this one. It defies all logic that they got a chance at glory against the Denver Nuggets – one of the most complete and impressive teams in recent memory. 

Still, Heat Culture was alive and well in the playoffs. Miami knocked off Milwaukee, New York, and Boston in rapid succession, the latter of which they nearly swept. Even though the Heat came up short against the Denver Nuggets in 5 games, there will likely be a sports documentary on this team with pundits collectively scratching their heads over how the squad ranks amongst the best rosters the franchise ever fielded.

3. 2012-2013

There is a legitimate argument that the Heat shouldn’t have beaten the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals. The Larry O’Brien trophy was on the court. Miami fans were already filing out. And then the Ray Allen shot happened. 

Additionally, Miami was pushed to a seven games series by the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals — a team with Roy Hibbert as their second-best player. Still, the greatness of LeBron carried the team, overcompensating for the physically waning Wade. Bosh stepped up as the second-best player on the team, bringing his defensive versatility to the forefront of the Heat’s success. 

During the regular season, the team won 66 games — their best mark in franchise history.

2. 2011-12

After their disappointing performance against the Dallas Mavericks, there was a lot of pressure on the Heat heading into the lockout-shortened season. The Heat responded by finishing with a record of 46-20 — maybe an inconsistent record for this group. Still, the Eastern Conference was so weak; no one doubted Miami’s ability to return to the Finals. 

Regardless, hey were tested in the playoffs, falling behind Boston 3-2 at TD Garden. Then, LeBron elevated into one of the greatest players of all-time. James dropped 45 points and paved the way for an eventual Game 7 victory. OKC was no match in the Finals. There was no better performance in the King James era. 

1. 2005-2006

Call it the Pat Riley effect. After a subpar start of the season under Stan Van Gundy, Riley took over the reins from the 22nd game on, leading Miami to the No. 2 seed in the conference. The team was a +350 contender to win the whole thing — middling odds for playoff teams. They even fell the first two games to a hungry Dallas Mavericks squad in the Finals. 

But, then Dwayne Wade happened. The third-year player had one of the best championship performances of all-time, averaging 35 points on his way to Finals MVP honors. It also helped that the series was in the 2-3-2 format, giving Miami the opportunity to win three straight at home — which they did. 

People forget: this may have been the deepest Miami team, with a bench loaded with dynamic players, shooters, defenders, and veterans alike. Hall of Famers Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton were coming off the bench. They had 3-time All-Star Antoine Walker starting at forward, and former All-Star Jason Williams, aka “White Chocolate,” at point guard. They also had NBA 3 Point Champion Jason Kapono providing shooting, and James Posey and Shandon Anderson providing great defense. And, oh yeah, they had Shaq! 

The 2005-2006 Miami Heat are our pick for the best Miam Heat team of all time, and they are one of the best teams in Florida pro sports history.