10 People who turned their back on the Miami Heat

Here are players, a coach, an analyst, and a general manager who we believe "turned their backs" on the Miami Heat organization -- some more than others.

Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers
Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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The Miami Heat have seen several renowned players grace their court donning white, red, and black uniforms. From Glen Rice and Rony Seikaly leading the team initially, to Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway taking the reins shortly after, followed by Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal emerging a few seasons later. Wade teamed up with LeBron James and Chris Bosh, all at the peak of their careers, forming a formidable trio known as “The Big Three,” which led the team to secure two championships in Miami. Acquiring these exceptional players was an effortless success.

As soon as they set foot in South Florida, the Miami Heat became an undeniable force in the NBA, achieving significant success throughout the last 20 years, including clinching three championship titles in 2006, 2012, and 2013. Miami’s previous achievement of reaching the Finals twice in four years was accomplished with an exceptionally talented roster, making it one of the most star-studded lineups in the league's history.  

Whether they contributed to postseason victories, influenced trades, or were involved in trade deals themselves, players and coaches alike have all played a part in shaping Miami into a championship contender, and making "Heat Culture" what it is today. However, sometimes things don’t always turn out as they plan, as it's a business after all.

From players, coaches, analysts, and general managers, here's a look at people who "turned their backs" on the Miami organization.

10 people who turned their back on the Miami Heat

1. LeBron James

LeBron James
2014 NBA Finals - Game Five / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
  • ​​Years played with the Heat: (2010-2014)
  • Significance of His Contribution: LeBron James played a pivotal role in introducing a fresh chapter in Heat basketball while transforming the team into a formidable championship contender.

During the 2003 NBA Draft, the Cleveland team selected LeBron James as their first overall pick when he was just 19 years old. He was chosen from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. LeBron James is widely recognized as one of the greatest players in NBA history. Throughout his career, he has won championships with every team he has played for, including two with the Miami Heat, one with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and one with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2010, James decided to leave Cleveland and join the Miami Heat. 

He explained that his main motivations for this move were not solely to play alongside NBA stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, but rather to pursue greatness. Regardless of his decision, James believed that he came to Miami for one reason only, to win championships. In an interview with ESPN, LeBron stated that he tried to recruit players to join him in Cleveland, but it didn’t happen. Therefore, he felt like "taking his talents to South Beach," was the best thing for his career at the time. 

In 2010, James joined the Heat alongside Bosh and Wade, forming "The Big Three." The team quickly became a top contender for a championship. Similar to the duo of Shaq and Wade, James and Wade played a pivotal role in transforming the NBA landscape through their combined efforts. They created one of the most exceptional duos, and the most captivating teams in league history, demonstrating the significant influence that NBA players can wield.  Their remarkable physical talents, defensive prowess, and strategic intelligence not only led to consecutive championships but also cemented their legacy as iconic figures in the league. 

Despite only spending four years together in Miami (and one less memorable season in Cleveland), Alongside Wade, LeBron secured two championships and earned MVP in both years. During his four years in Miami, James averaged 26.9 points, 6.7 assists, and 7.6 rebounds. Wade's knee issues began to surface towards the end of James's tenure, prompting his move to the Cavs in 2014.

Heat president Pat Riley had a vision to contend for championships with the Heat. However, LeBron's departure from the team led to an unexpected and challenging rebuilding phase over the past six years. James’ decision to leave the Heat in 2014 and return to the Cleveland Cavaliers caught the NBA community off guard and left Riley with a sense of anger and disappointment, sending the team down a risky path back to championship contention.  

"I was very angry when LeBron left. It was personal for me. It just was," Riley said. "I had two to three days of tremendous anger. I was livid, which I expressed to myself and my closest friends. ​​My beautiful plan all of a sudden came crashing down. That team in ten years could have won five or six championships."