It’s a shame casual NBA fans will most remember the $112 million whenever the name Rashard Lewis comes up. A 6-10 sniper from deep who could also move, take you off the bounce and finish at the rim? They don’t come around too often. What we sometimes forget that the two-time All-Star scored over 18 points per game five times throughout his NBA career (and won a title with Miami this past year) after he dropped all the way into the second round during the 1998 NBA Draft.
To add insult to injury, his hometown Rockets passed up on him three times that night to select Michael Dickerson, Bryce Drew and Mirsad Türkcan. The now 34-year-old made them pay over and over again over the last 15 years.
But even seven seasons into his career, Lewis still couldn’t shake that draft night agony. Lewis told the Seattle Times in February of 2005—right before playing in his first All-Star game—that the night still re-plays in his head all the time.
“I still think about that day all of the time. I don’t know why. I’m happy what I’m doing now and where I’m at. I’m happy being in Seattle, but it just something about that draft day.”
“You know I was just a kid. I was just 18 years old, excited about being drafted to the NBA. I felt like all of Houston was watching me. My high school was watching me. I think they had a draft party at my coach’s house. I’ll never forget that day, being in the green room with my family and my agent.
“As my name was getting passed, I couldn’t even take it no more and I had to leave and go to the restroom because I didn’t want nobody to see how hurt I was. So I started crying in the restroom while nobody was around.”
After his first appearance at the 2005 All-Star Game, Lewis logged two more seasons averaging over 20 points per game before heading to Orlando. He even made the 2009 All-Star Game with the Magic after The Contract. A lot of people have forgotten his draft day snub and the solid numbers he produced as one of the first stretch 4′s in the game in order to malign him for accepting a lot of money to play the sport he loves.
Despite The Contract and all the backlash that inevitably came with it, Lewis has out-performed his draft day position by a considerable margin. Lets commend him for his remarkable journey after that uncomfortable Vancouver night in 1998, and wish him a happy birthday today.
Was Lewis overrated or underrated?
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