Rashard Lewis: The Ultimate Professional
Patience is a virtue HEAT Forward Rashard Lewis knows well. When he signed with Miami in 2012, the 15-year NBA veteran knew patience would be a big part of playing with the defending NBA Champions. With a roster full of capable veterans, finding minutes on the court could have been an issue. Not for Lewis, who knew his patience would pay off.
“They had a lot of guys returning, so I knew I had to come in and play my role,” said Lewis. “The main thing was talking the team veterans and heeding their advice of staying prepared - physically and mentally- because your name could get called at any time.”
This season Lewis has been playing on a more consistent basis and becoming an offensive threat. His ability to hit the outside jumper, including proficiency from three-point land (8th all-time), forces the defense to pay attention to him. This respect allows a wide open lane for his teammates to work. A huge part of the Miami HEAT philosophy is predicated on playing stingy defense and the 6’10” Lewis fits right in. His length and closeout speed creates match-up problems against other league forwards. Lewis’ exceptionally long wingspan and frame deflects and redirects shots that come in his direction.
Last season, Lewis was Miami’s top scorer off the bench on eight occasions and also led the reserves in steals nine times, rebounds in eight games and blocks five times. This year, the HEAT sharpshooter is taking advantage of every opportunity. He played season-high 33 minutes and grabbed nine rebounds against Charlotte last month, yet never takes anything for granted.
“I’m always prepared regardless of how much I play,” said the former McDonald’s All-American. “I may play five minutes in one game, 10 in the next and 15 in next. It varies, but mentally you still have to be ready to go, no matter what. You never know what is going to happen. We have a veteran group that is always prepared and that’s what makes this team successful. We are all about winning ball games, not individual stats or playing time. We just want to win games.”
When he looks back at his NBA career, Lewis considers himself very lucky, but knows his hard work contributed to his success.
“It feels like it was yesterday. When I came in as a younger teenager, as a kid, I was drafted in the second round without a guaranteed contract. I had to work extremely hard to get where I am. Now 15 years in, I look back and think it’s a definite blessing. Regardless of everyone says you have to believe in yourself. It’s all about you and what you believe in your heart.”
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