Best Heat Player
For all their superstardom, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade can't hit a 24-footer to save their nicknames. Wade makes a three-point shot, on average, once a month. O'Neal has made precisely one NBA trey, nine years ago. Damon Jones, the Heat guard keeping defenses honest -- and freeing the lanes for the Diesel and Flash to savage the rim -- happens to be a guy who couldn't even make a CBA roster when he left the University of Houston after a passable junior season. Jones started his pro career in 1997 as a member of the Black Hills Posse in the International Basketball Association -- and even then was coming off the bench. He fought his way up to the CBA, then toured the NBA with the Celtics, Nets, Mavericks, Warriors, Grizzlies, Pistons, Kings, and, last year, the Bucks. When Rafer Alston left Miami for a $5-mil-a-year contract with Toronto, the Heat signed Aimin' Damon for half that, money well spent: This season, the bargain-basement bomber hit more three-pointers at a higher percentage than any other player in the NBA. He carried one of the highest assist-to-turnover ratios in the league, turning the ball over about a third as often as Wade while starting more games than in the rest of his career combined. Jones has finally arrived, and no coincidence, so has the Heat. As he told the Miami Herald, in reflecting on his meandering career: "I wouldn't change the script at all."
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