Rashard Lewis was the glue holding the 2009 Orlando Magic together

Rashard Lewis came up big for the Orlando Magic throughout the team's 2009 Playoff run. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Rashard Lewis came up big for the Orlando Magic throughout the team's 2009 Playoff run. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Rashard Lewis is not always the hero of the 2009 Orlando Magic Playoff run. But his consistency was the key to the team’s Finals trip.

Both coach Stan Van Gundy and Steve Clifford have shared a critical story about Rashard Lewis when he joined the Orlando Magic.

In training camp of his first year, fresh off signing Rashard Lewis to a five-year, $90.9 million, the Magic had a big ask for their new signee. Tony Battie had dislocated his shoulder trying to defend Dwight Howard and the Magic were searching for a new power forward.

Lewis was a 6-foot-10 sweet-shooting forward. He was a tweener for the time, not strong enough to play power forward full-time, but strong enough to put smaller forwards on the block and beat them.

His strong season for the Seattle SuperSonics earned him a near-max contract with the Orlando Magic, a deal that some believed was too much from Orlando.

And so part of the agreement the Magic came to when they signed him was they would put him at small forward and keep him away from the physical pounding of the low block. But Orlando knew its five best players included both Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu. They were prepared to bring the mercurial forward off the bench.

Desperate times forced them to ask the big question of Lewis earlier than perhaps they wanted to. They asked if Lewis did not mind moving to power forward.

Lewis agreed without blinking. That is what the team needed him to do and so he would do it.

It is very realistically the story that made the Magic the next it team in the league, a revolutionary force that laid the seeds for the 3-point revolution. Lewis at power forward gave the Magic a formidable front line and spacing in a league that was realizing the power of the 3-point line.

The fact Lewis did this all as the rare max-contract player who sacrificed himself for the team is still lost on a lot of people. Sizable contracts always follow around players and his 16.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game on 54.1-percent effective field goal percentage did not help his argument that he was worth the cap space he took up.

All that talk went silent though when the Magic made their 2009 Finals run.

Even though Lewis was not the prime player in many of the games and the highlights and memories of that run belong to many other players, Lewis was as consistent and steady throughout.

And when the Magic needed him most, he always delivered.

That was most present in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals where the Cleveland Cavaliers simply had no answer for Lewis. His versatility was that team’s nightmare. And he delivered to take advantage of that weakness.

It started in Game 1 when the Magic completed a 16-point second-half comeback on Lewis’ timely shot. In the dying seconds, he stared down Anderson Varejao, giving him a jab step before rising over him for the game-winning shot.


That was the exact shot the Magic needed to have the confidence that they could win the series.

He stepped up big again in Game 4, which re-aired on FOX Sports Florida on Thursday (and will air again Saturday, if you missed it).

Trailing by one late in the fourth quarter, Lewis came around a screen and took an inbounds pass to hit a 3-pointer for a two-point lead. LeBron James tied the game at the foul line, but he could not overcome the Magic that night. Dwight Howard scored 10 points in overtime to ice the victory. Lewis had 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

That shot is still what live son as the decisive shot that gave the Magic a 3-1 series lead.


For the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals, Lewis averaged 18.3 points per game (second on the team behind Howard) and shot a 59.9-percent effective field goal percentage, going 15 for 31 from deep.

In that series, LeBron James’ game-winning shot in Game 2 is replayed most. Just like how throughout that playoffs, fans see Hedo Turkoglu’s winner in Game 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers or Dwight Howard’s dominant performance to close out the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6, Lewis just flew under the radar.

But he was stellar throughout the postseason.

He finished the 2009 Playoffs averaging 19.0 points per game (second behind Howard) while shooting a 52.3 percent effective field goal percentage and 39.4 percent from deep.

In those games was a 29-point effort with Howard out of the game in the series-clinching win over the 76ers. It was just one of two games that postseason Lewis did not hit a three. With Howard out, the Magic put Lewis on the block more and ran the offense through him.

No game showed how much Lewis delivered for his team or rose to the moment quite like that confidence-building win for the entire team.

His highest-scoring game of the playoffs came in the Orlando Magic’s Game 2 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. He scored 34 points to go with 11 rebounds and seven assists.

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Throughout much of the NBA Finals, he kept the Magic afloat offensive as they struggled to break the Lakers’ size and versatility on the wings. Lewis averaged 17.4 points per game and shot a 51.4-percent effective field goal percentage in the series.

Even as the Magic struggled to find the composure that built their entire Playoff run, Lewis stayed even and reliable as ever.

That is what Lewis gave the team throughout his tenure. Perhaps with how much the Magic were paying and the capital they expended to acquire him, they needed a bit more. But that was not who Lewis was.

Instead what the Magic got was a player who constantly stepped up when his team needed it most. They got a player who delivered on the biggest stage. His consistency helped keep the team together.

Next. Magic were picture of calm in defeating Celtics in 2009. dark

Others may have taken the spotlight throughout that championship run. But Lewis is very much who kept them together.