On This Day In Heat History: Miami wins first NBA Championship in 2006 behind Dwyane Wade’s heroics

Miami Heat
(Rhona Wise/European Pressphoto Agency)

On this day in Miami Heat history, 18 years ago, the franchise officially etched itself into NBA lore. The Heat secured their first-ever NBA Title over the Dallas Mavericks, winning the series final four games (after trailing 2-0) as a result of Dwyane Wade’s heroics.

Let’s reminisce below, shall we?

How did we get here?

Heading into the 2005-06 Miami Heat season, they were coming off a 59-23 campaign but came up short once again, losing in seven games to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami led 3-2 in the series after five games, but lost 91-66 in Game 6 followed by Game 7 on their own home court, 88-82. It failed short yet again of making an NBA Finals, which it hadn’t done since the organization’s inception in 1988.

Miami made multiple crucial acquisitions in the late 90s and early 2000s. Though two incredibly crucial ones shaped their title surge in 2006: 1.) Miami traded Albert Miralles, Qyntel Woods, Eddie Jones and Rasual Butler for Andre Emmett, James Posey, Antoine Walker and Jason Williams in a five-team trade that included the Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets; and, more importantly, 2.) Acquiring Shaquille O’Neal from the Los Angeles Lakers for Brian Grant, Caron Butler, Lamar Odom and a 2006 first-round pick a year earlier.

Stan Van Gundy resigned as head coach 21 games (11-10) into the season and Pat Riley, who resigned after after eight seasons prior to 2002-03, took back the reigns. Riley guided the Heat to 52-30 and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

They downed the Andres Nocioni, Ben Gordon-led Bulls in six games before outlasting the New Jersey Nets in five. Miami met the then-reigning champion Pistons in the East Semis. But it did not let go of the rope this time, beating Detroit in six games, including a 95-78 win in Game 6 behind O’Neal’s 28 point, 16-rebound effort.

What happened?

Miami dropped the first two games of the 2004 NBA Finals in Dallas by 20 and 14 points, respectively.

Then, Wade, a 24-year-old in his third NBA season, reached new heights.

In Game 3, Wade helped Miami battle back from down 12 points in the fourth quarter. Wade scored 15 of Miami’s 30 points, nearly outscoring Dallas by himself 30-19 to help secure the team’s first-ever NBA Finals victory.

Miami didn’t look back. It won Game 4 by a resounding 24 points before narrowly edging out the Mavericks by one point in Game 6 heading back to Dallas.

In Game 6, on June 20, 2006, the Miami Heat won their first-ever NBA Title behind Dwyane Wade’s heroics. In classic Heat fashion, it wasn’t always pretty, but they got the job done in Game 6.

Wade tallied 36 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks on 10-of-18 shooting and 16-of-21 from the free-throw line. In addition to his dominant outing, Heat lifer Udonis Haslem tallied 17 points and 10 rebounds; Walker posted 14 points and 11 boards while O’Neal had nine points and 12 rebounds.

The former No. 5 overall pick was named the Finals MVP, averaging 39.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.5 steals and one block on 50.5 percent shooting and 61.8 percent true shooting in the series’ final four games, including a pair of 42- and 43-point performances in Games 3 and 5, respectively.

Miami became the third-ever franchise to battle back down 2-0 to win an NBA Finals and the 16th active franchise to win a title. And it was all on the back of Wade, despite other ancillary pieces contributing throughout the historic run.

We just put a saddle on the man and we rode him because he had it going,” Mourning recalled recently, according to Shane Garry Acedera of the Basketball Network. “He had the utmost confidence, D-Wade at that particular time. He walked on the court like ‘Nobody can stop me from doing what I want to do.’

Riles put together an incredible supporting cast with Antoine, J-Will, Posey, UD held his weight on the boards and everything, Shaq, and myself, GP. I mean we got it done you know but it took a lot of sweating man, it really did. We went down 0-2 then when Mark Cuban got on David Letterman and started talking about how he had a parade planned and everything, that king of lit a fire under us and won four games in a row.”





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Dang! That was a helleva memory. Question: since Bally Sports bailed…what’s the go-to to watch Heat next season?

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