Miami Heat Rashard Lewis press conference: Lewis says he is not just along for the ride

He's married and more focused on finding the perfect pre-school for his five-year-old daughter this fall in Miami.

So a few weeks here in Sin City to train in preparation for his first season with the Heat is no problem. Even if there were temptation, Lewis avoids it by taking the same route from his hotel to make it on time for his 8 a.m., workouts.

"You come down on the elevator and you go out by the valet area," Lewis said. "In the morning when I come downstairs, I don't even see the casino. When I come back, I just go straight up to my room."

Lewis is attempting to regain some of the form that made him a two-time All-Star during the early portion of the decade. Injuries have slowed him the last two seasons, but spending most of the summer training at Impact Basketball has him back on track.

Lewis is in the middle of his second 14-day stint at the facility. After a brief trip home to Houston, he will return for a six-week stay with hopes of arriving in peak shape for Heat training camp in late September.

"I'm at a point in my career where I know how to discipline myself," Lewis said. "I put the work in. I've had a lot of fun in my career and my life. I'm kind of past that point. I know when I set my mind on something I'm going to go out there and try to do it."

The reason for the dedication is Lewis wants to contribute if Miami is going to win another championship.He's seen too many veteran players collect a ring while sitting on the end of the bench.

That's not Lewis' style.

"As long as I'm out there helping the team, I'm fine," Lewis said. "My goal is to be ready on the court and put in work. I want to go through some wars with these guys and not just be one of those guys sitting down just riding the ship just to try to get a ring."

It's why Lewis decided on getting his first experience at Impact Basketball, a training facility on the outskirts of Las Vegas that has helped professional players for more than 15 years. Lewis had heard the stories of how it was a haven for players needing to recover from injuries, improve physical condition or impress NBA scouts. A list of jerseys hang on the walls, with noticeable last names on the back. Lin. Garnett. Wall. Maggette.

On Tuesday, while Lewis was finishing his workout, free agent center Jermaine O'Neal was running through a series of drills for Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown and general manager Mitch Kupchak. Two days before, it was Washington Wizards center Emeka Okafor holding a personal workout.

Lewis was next.

After playing just 28 games last season because of tendinitis and bone bruises hampered both knees, he contacted Impact Basketball founder Joe Abunassar in May.

"He and I talked early when the season ended," Abunassar said. "For me at this point, if a guy is just going to come in and work out a little bit, I'm not all that interested because I want to have an opportunity to have an effect on a guy. He made a commitment to me."

Abunassar said Lewis has "looked great" thus far. He's worked out twice a day, at 8 a.m., and noon. The sessions consist mostly of weight-training and basketball drills conducted at "game speed."

"Even with the shooting drills, it's all conditioning," Lewis said. "It's seems like everything has some type of conditioning, even when you lift weights. Everything has some type of running."

Lewis says he will gradually advance to playing pick-up ball against the various NBA players who use the facility. That should be soon, considering he feels the healthiest since he was in Orlando in 2009-10. That was his last productive year before trading to the Wizards early the following season.

Lewis was disappointed about going from a contender to a lower-tier team.

"They decided to blow it up, traded Vince Carter and put the deal on with me," Lewis said. "Ever since then, the team (Orlando) has been, not to say anything bad about the organization because I respect them a lot, but they first started to go through their ups and downs when they made that trade."

Lewis is back on a favored team, only with fewer individual expectations. He took a lot of criticism in Orlando because his numbers didn't match up to his six-year, $118-million contract. Now, he plays for the league veteran's minimum of $1.3 million and expected to produce in certain situations.

"I think it will be a little bit easier," Lewis said. "That big contract is not hovering over you, but at the same time the pressure will still be there because you have such a talented team that's won a championship. It's always harder to win for the second time."

The biggest difficulty for Lewis aside from health is dealing with the expectations. He said his friends and family have made it feel as if he's already won a title because the additions of him and Ray Allen. Lewis used the example of the 2003-04 Lakers, already a championship-caliber team, adding veterans

Gary Payton and Karl Malone.

Those Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

"Everybody is talking about how they're coming down [to Miami]," Lewis said. "I'm like, `You didn't come down when I was playing in D.C … It's like they think I've already won a championship, but I'm trying to stay relaxed and calm to where I'm thinking my job is not done yet."

fewer individual expectations. He took a lot of criticism in Orlando because his numbers didn't match up to his six-year, $118-million contract. Now, he plays for the league veteran's minimum of $1.3 million and expected to produce in certain situations.

"I think it will be a little bit easier," Lewis said. "That big contract is not hovering over you, but at the same time the pressure will still be there because you have such a talented team that's won a championship. It's always harder to win for the second time."

The biggest difficulty for Lewis aside from health is dealing with the expectations. He said his friends and family have made it feel as if he's already won a title because the additions of him and Ray Allen. Lewis used the example of the 2003-04 Lakers, already a championship-caliber team, adding veterans Gary Payton and Karl Malone.

Those Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

"Everybody is talking about how they're coming down [to Miami]," Lewis said. "I'm like, `You didn't come down when I was playing in D.C … It's like they think I've already won a championship, but I'm trying to stay relaxed and calm to where I'm thinking my job is not done yet."


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