Ball Don't Lie - NBA

This is some pretty ridiculous revisionist history meets PR madness gone, uh, mad ... but we're still going to link to it.

The Miami Heat, celebrating its 20th year, have decided to unveil what they believe to be the team's top 25 players in the franchise's storied history. Most of the picks are spot on. Four different strong permutations of this team made playoff runs (the Glen Rice outfit, the Alonzo Mourning-anchored squad, the Lamar Odom-led bunch in 2003-04 and the current band); a pretty remarkable trek for any expansion squad, and the Heat are the only expansion franchise created over the last 35 years (ABA teams excluded) to win an NBA championship. This is a pretty solid organization.

But part of this list is pushing it. Part of it wants to forget that certain contributors ever played a minute with the team, part of it wants to trump up the contributions of those of whom that happened to be a member of the team in June of 2006, and part of it wants to remind you that Caron Butler used to be on the Heat. The latter is only one part, but still, go with me.

The Butler part is ridiculous. The All-Star had a solid first season in Miami, and then was a complete non-factor in his injury-plagued second season (shooting 38 percent, unable to average double-figure points in spite of playing 30 minutes a game) before being traded to the Lakers in 2004. Jason Williams, starting point man on the 2006 championship team is on the list, a fine feat for a player whose expiring contract will be shipped out of Miami any minute now, and a guy who played exactly 120 games for the team entering this season.

Bruce Bowen is on the list. Seriously. The guy played a single game for Miami in 1996-97 before being waived, then played 82 games for the 2001-02 team before jetting off to San Antonio when the Heat couldn't match or top San Antonio's offer of a two-year, $1.5 million contract. A guy that Pat Riley didn't think enough of to pay $800,000 a year to is on the Heat's top-25 list? Seems a desperate attempt to remind people that, yes, Bruce Bowen once played for the Heat ... and forget all the rest.

Keith Askins is on the list, he was a strong defender for Miami and is currently an assistant coach under Riley, but come on. He averaged over 23 minutes just once in his career with the Heat and started a total of 80 games in nine seasons. Rory Sparrow gets a nod for his two seasons with Miami, which I reckon is better than Lamar Odom's one. Doesn't matter, they're all on.

Honestly, Willie Burton has contributed quite a bit more in his career to the Miami Heat than some of the players on this list, but you get the feeling that this fact seems a little unsavory to the team's brass. The much-beleaguered Harold Miner, empty though his promise may have been, gave the Heat more than Jason Williams has, and the fact that Ike Austin isn't on the list probably has something to do with his inclusion in every NBA trade rumor from January of 1997 until February of 1998 and the idea that he was more interested in grabbing a big payday from a team besides the Heat after 1997-98.

Doesn't matter, Riles. The man carried your you-know-what for the first 25 games of the season in 1997-98, and you probably wouldn't have won your division without him.

There's nothing wrong with the list, it's a silly way to pass the time in the early stages of an otherwise disastrous season, and there's nothing truly wrong with rewarding Keith Askins for being a dedicated worker for his entire career. I guess the easiest answer in all of this is: mates, you've been around for 20 years, make it a freakin' top 20 list.

I just continually blanch at PR hacks assuming the worst of our respective memories, so you'll have to excuse my dubiosity. Ike Austin would have wanted it that way.

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