Back in 1985, Gatorade established an award honoring the nation's top high school student-athletes. Since then, the Gatorade Player of the Year award has recognized more than 12,500 state and national winners in 12 sports.
Gatorade Player of the Year alumni include household names like Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, Candace Parker, Kerri Walsh and Abby Wambach — a distinguished group, indeed.
This week, we're catching up with the Miami Heat.
Has anyone noticed that the Miami Heat have put together a little bit of a win streak lately? The Heat have won 22 straight games since Feb. 1 and carried an NBA-best record of 51-14 into Monday night’s game at Boston.
Leading the way for the Heat, of course, is all-everything LeBron James, the 2001-02 and 2002-03 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year. But did you know that the Heat have seven other former Gatorade State Players of the Year? Their total of eight is the most in the NBA.
There are 109 former POYs currently on NBA rosters. Every team has at least one, with the Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs having just one winner. The L.A. Clippers have seven, the New York Knicks six and four teams — the Bobcats, Cavaliers, Celtics and 76ers — have five each.
The oldest active POY is a member of the Heat — Juwan Howard, the 1990-91 winner from Illinois. The second-oldest POY is Ray Allen, the 1992-93 winner from South Carolina. He’s on the Heat, too.
James’ fellow Big Three member Chris Bosh was the 2001-02 POY in Texas (but Dwyane Wade never won). Starting point guard Mario Chalmers was a two-time POY winner (2003-04, ‘04-05) in Alaska, while off-and-on starter Shane Battier won POY honors in Michigan for the 1996-97 school year.
Mike Miller, whose sharp shooting made Game 6 of the NBA Finals a fait accompli for the Heat, joins James and Chalmers as two-time Gatorade POYs — winning in South Dakota in 1996-97 and 1997-98. Another pretty good outside shooter, 1997-98 Texas winner Rashard Lewis, rounds out the Heat’s POY family.
So the Heat have the most Gatorade Players of the Year and the best record in the league. Coincidence? We like to think not.
Here’s the list of the number of Gatorade winners on each team.
Team No. of POYs