Rashard Lewis has stepped inside Amway Center plenty of times, but Wednesday night was a first for him.
It was the first time he's walked into the arena as an NBA champion.
Lewis, who played in four seasons for the Orlando Magic, is still savoring the NBA title he won as a member of the 2012-13 Miami Heat.
"It's still with me," Lewis said before his Heat trounced the Magic 120-92. "Even as we start the new season, I'm still extremely excited about winning a championship.
"I'm still focused on trying to get another one this season, although we've got even more of a challenge this year. But, at the same time, I still lay down at night and think about how San Antonio could've easily won that. We were a couple of seconds away from walking into the locker room with our heads down."
As a part of their ongoing 25th-anniversary celebration, the Magic honored Lewis and Juwan Howard with a video tribute during the first quarter.
"I had a lot of fun here, not only basketball-wise but my family," Lewis said. "We had great times here. We had great teams with Stan Van Gundy being the coach and making The Finals and playing against the Lakers, America's team. It was so much fun and there was so much history here with the Orlando Magic. It's something I will most definitely never forget, and it's always in the back of my mind."
On Dec. 31, 2012, Nik Vucevic authored one of the greatest single-game performances ever by a Magic center. He scored 20 points and collected a franchise-record 29 rebounds in a 112-110 overtime loss to the Heat.
It marked a turning point in Vucevic's career.
He had spent his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers, and the season didn't go well. Vucevic suffered from a few injuries, and his playing time diminished late in the season.
But in August 2012, he was included in the 12-player deal that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers. The trade to Orlando gave Vucevic a chance to play regularly.
And his 29-rebound game proved he belonged in the NBA.
Vucevic still derives confidence from that day.
"It's probably the best game I've played," Vucevic said.
"I think if you have a game like that, it shows you that you can play at this level and you can play high at this level. So, that game helped me a lot with my confidence last year. After that game I kind of went on a hot streak playing-wise and rebounding-wise, so it definitely helped."
In two other games against the Heat, he averaged 22.5 points and 17.0 rebounds per game.
"He's more than just a good, young player with potential," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Certainly against us he's a player that produces and somebody we have to contend with right now."
Impressions of Oladipo
Spoelstra was asked to give his thoughts on Magic rookie Victor Oladipo.
"What an incredible motor," Spoelstra said.
Golfer Justin Rose, retired NBA players Grant Hill and Jason Williams, football player Darrelle Revis, baseball players Jose Bautista, Prince Fielder, Carlos Peña and Anibal Sanchez attended Wednesday's game, Magic officials said.
Orlando's Glen Davis and Miami's Ray Allen, former Boston Celtics teammates, spoke with each other before tipoff.
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