Having joined the NBA in 1988, the Miami Heat had to wait only four years to make their first ever playoffs appearance. From then on, they got used to making the postseason before eventually winning their first championship.

In 2006, the Heat secured their first ever NBA title. It wouldn’t take long for them to add two more banners to their rafters, winning the 2012 and 2013 titles. However, Miami cemented a bigger legacy than its trophies: the Heat Culture.

Based on hard-work, discipline and teamwork, that iconic basketball philosophy has been attributed to the championship-winning teams, like the 2006 teams or the Heatles side that featured LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. But Heat legend Tim Hardaway claims the Heat Culture started way before.

Tim Hardaway claims Heat Culture started in late 90s

“I think the Heat culture started in ‘96-97,” Hardaway told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “It didn’t happen when Pat Riley arrived [in 1995-96], because he hadn’t put his team together. Once the team in ‘96-97 got complete and we went out there and practiced, got out and worked, went out there and played, we just wanted to win. We had fun playing with each other and together and we could always count on each other to get in that foxhole and know that everybody had each others’ back. And that’s where it started.

“Heat culture started with Pat Riley coming to the Miami Heat, with Keith Askins, Alonzo Mourning, and then when he made that trade. I really think Heat culture started in ‘96-97, with Keith, Alonzo Mourning, myself, Voshon Lenard, Dan Majerle, Ike Austin and P.J. Brown, of course.

All this social media, they forget about what really, really happened in ‘96-97, ‘98, ‘99. They forget about what really happened. They just look at now, with the Big Three and those guys. I laugh, I just let it go. But it started in ‘96-97 and a lot of people forget about that.”

Most people probably remember the Heatles era more than any other team in franchise history, but they cannot overlook what happened before. At the end of the day, there’s a reason why the Heat retired Alonzo Mourning and Hardaway’s numbers.