The Miami Heat made their NBA franchise debut in 1988. Their beginnings proved to be a story of finding the right combination of talent and time. While their first few seasons did not get them very far, they were the beginning of Florida’s NBA basketball involvement.
In 1987 Florida had no NBA franchises. Orlando and Miami had both put together attractive offerings and were both vying for endorsements by the Sports and Exhibition Authority. Miami landed the endorsement thanks to the leadership of Billy Cunningham, NBA Hall of Fame member and the financial backing from Ted Arison who was the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines.
The NBA expansion committee was torn between awarding the last franchise spot to Orlando or Miami. After deliberation and some name calling between the two teams it was decided that the Miami would make their debut during the 88’ – 89’ season and Orlando would begin the following season.
The name of Miami’s NBA franchise was a battle between the Miami Heat, and Miami Vice. The Miami Heat would win and the team would take the court to begin their inaugural season as such. The first year playing proved uneventful with a roster of inexperienced and young players alike. They would go on to tie the record for the worst season in franchise history with a 15-67 win-loss record. The following season for the Heat would prove to be equally uneventful with a 24-58 record and the resignation of head coach Rothstein.
Kevin Loughery was hired as the Miami Heat’s head coaching position for the 1991-1992 season. With some new faces and now tenured players the Heat would play through the season in the Atlantic Division, finishing fourth. While the Heat did make it to the playoffs, they faced the Chicago Bulls and were defeated in a three game sweep.
Although the Miami Heat didn’t see a championship or even a playoff win in their first few seasons, they cannot be seen as failing. Finding a combination of players and coach staff that works can be a time staking process, the Heats ability to stick through the low points would allow them to progress as a professional basketball franchise.