Most NBA fans have never heard of Rony Seikaly. It also wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that most Heat fans don’t know who he is, either.
Believe it or not, Seiklay is arguably one of the greatest Miami Heat players of all-time. Yes, Dwyane Wade brought Miami’s first NBA championship, but Seiklay set the tone of the Miami Heat for years to come.
Seikaly was born in Beirut, Lebanon, but grew up in Greece playing basketball, football and track and field. He eventually found his fortè in basketball and was courted by Panathinaikos, a professional team in Greece. Seikaly was able to play one tournament with the team until the league did not allow him to play, due to a rule that prohibited foreigners from participating.
After months and months of trying to apply for Greek citizenship, Seikaly was offered a scholarship to play for Syracuse University in 1983. Seikaly was red-shirted his first year due to his rawness on the offensive end.
At the start of the 1984-85 season, Siekaly was inserted into the starting lineup where he showed promise. Seikaly averaged 8.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Although, he put up good numbers, Seikaly was foul-prone, fouling out of 1/3 of the games. However, Seikaly would rebound each year, increasing his averages in points and rebounds substantially.
After his senior season, where he averaged 16.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, Seikaly entered his name into the 1988 NBA Draft. He was taken by the expansion-team Miami Heat with the ninth pick in the first round. He became Miami’s first ever college draft pick and was expected to be the face of the franchise.
Soon enough, Seikaly emerged as one of the league’s best centers, averaging 10.9 points, seven rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Just like in college, Seikaly improved his numbers every season. In his second season, he averaged 16.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game, garnering him the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.
In the next two seasons, Seikaly maintained his average of 16 points and increased his rebounding to 11 per game. He led the Heat to its first ever playoff berth in 1991, but they were swept by the red-hot Bulls led by Michael Jordan.
The 1992-93 season was Seikaly’s best season of his NBA career. He averaged 17.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per game and led the Heat to its first ever playoff series win.
Seikaly played one more season with the Heat, before being traded to the Golden State Warriors in 1994. He broke several Miami Heat franchise records that include, most blocks in a game (8), most rebounds in a game (34) and most double-doubles.
Although, Seiklay never won Miami a championship, he will always be remembered for his hard work and dedication to the game. Without Seiklay, Miami is not the franchise they are today.
The Spin Doctor will always have a special place in Miami’s heart.