While neither is that intimidating based on size and appearance, they’re the type of men you’d be foolish to throw down against — unless you’re Charles Oakley, the meanest one of them all.
A blatant toughness has resinated with the Heat ever since Pat Riley took over the franchise’s basketball operations in the mid-1990s, filled with fearless types offering some combination of edge, rage and intimidation.
Here are the 10 baddest dudes in Miami Heat history.
Honorary mention: Dexter Pittman
10. Kurt Thomas
Kurt only played for the Heat for a season and change, but he was among the dirtier, most physical players to come through. He mastered the art of getting under his opponent’s skin.
His nicknames on Basketball Reference are “Crazy Eyes” and “Dirty Kurt.”
He was also an unfortunate member of the New York Knicks and for that, he is punished and sent to the end of the line.
9. Dwyane Wade
If D-Wade wasn’t as talented maybe he would’ve carved a niche as an enforcer of sorts.
While his game featured plenty of flash, he’s quietly been among the most physical and temperamental perimeter players since entering the league in 2003. It was no different with Michael Jordan.
Nobody necessarily thinks of the 6-foot-4 Wade and his movie star smile as imposing, but he’s sneaky mean and backs down from no one.
8. Bruce Bowen
Here’s another under-the-radar bad boy who made his paper by being a stellar defensive menace — this entailed sound fundamentals but also a feisty mentality. He was never among the most talented players on the court so he had to make up for it with everything else.
Bruce wasn’t afraid to muddy his hands. Just ask Vince Carter or Wally Szczerbiak, the latter being the sole NBA recipient (to my knowledge) of a flying kick to the face.
7. Keith Askins
It’s a shame YouTube wasn’t around during the Askins Era because he had his fair share of scuffles during his nine-year career. You may remember a vicious takedown of Keith Van Horn.
“I don’t go out to play the game of basketball for friends on the court or to hang out with guys afterward,” he told the Sun Sentinel in 1998. “I’m content with my teammates. I’m content with myself. I don’t need any friends out there on the basketball court.”
6. P.J. Brown
In tandem with Alonzo Mourning, the Heat featured one of the most physical big men pairings in the league during the late 90s.
In the Askins mold, Brown wasn’t highly skilled or immensely talented but was able to get by with smarts, energy and — above all — toughness. P.J. was a participant in many scrums over the years, including this comical Charlie Ward flip.
5. Chris “Birdman” Andersen
There’s no doubt a vast part of Birdman’s bad boy mystique sources from his bizarre peacock-like appearance, but there’s certainly some nasty beneath the colorful feathers.
I miss his spats with Tyler Hansbrough, who is absolutely petrified of Birdman. There’s a reason Tyler’s face is frozen with terror.
4. Alonzo Mourning
Joining Wade as the rare franchise player who did his own enforcing, Zo not only looked the part with his chiseled 6-foot-10 frame but had a little crazy in him as well, evidenced by his willingness to go chin to chin with a lunatic like Oakley.
Alonzo was involved in one of the most notable fights in NBA history, against the Knicks in the 1997 NBA Playoffs — the highlight of Jeff Van Gundy’s career.
3. Jermaine O’Neal
Anyone with “leaping right hook to a fan’s jaw” on his resume is one MEAN dude.
While Jermaine the fighter didn’t come out much during his two seasons in Miami, he has plenty of scrums on his resume, including one with Haslem.
2. James Johnson
Johnson, nicknamed Bloodsport, is the only second-degree blackbelt in team history, to my knowledge. The man who once said he could take Stugotz’s life in as little as 15 seconds would probably annihilate anyone in the league — past or present — in a fight to the death.
Taurean Prince is lucky he still has his teeth.
1. Udonis Haslem
Was there ever any doubt?
Haslem is the Oakley of the modern NBA. He may not be the tallest or the biggest, but UD embodies the throwback enforcer, a dying breed.
One of my favorite bad-ass Haslem moments happens to be incredibly underrated. In 2012, he was banging with Zaza Pachulia for a rebound. Zaza goes down and he reaches out his hand to be helped up by Haslem.
Haslem obviously declines followed by Zaza trying to trip him.