Kawhi Leonard has been a polarizing figure in the NBA since he was drafted by San Antonio. The Spurs star is known for his quiet and introverted nature, which rubs people the wrong way because of the way he operates.
Kawhi Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA
Kyle Lowry used to play for the Toronto Raptors. The Miami Heat have signed the franchise’s all-time leader in assists, steals, made 3-pointers, and triple-doubles (!). However, as he said on a recent podcast, you can take the player out of Canada, but you can never take Lowry out of Canada. The former 24th overall selection has had an improbable career. As one would expect, one of his favorite subjects is the Raptors’ 2019 NBA championship journey. That was also his only season alongside Kawhi Leonard, the NBA’s most valuable player.
Lowry seemed to be destined for a career as an NBA journeyman. After joining the Memphis Grizzlies as a backup in 2006, he played a similar position with the Houston Rockets for the next two seasons. However, a move to the Raptors in 2012 altered everything. Lowry was a six-time All-Star, an All-NBA selection in 2015–16, an Olympic gold medalist, and a championship winner throughout his nine years in Toronto.
Kyle Lowry’s heart hasn’t changed despite the change of location.
Kyle Lowry, 35, no longer fits the Raptors’ timetable, as the team prepares for a rebuild after missing the playoffs last season. Lowry was re-signed by the Raptors before being traded to the Miami Heat for veteran point guard Goran Dragi and promising rookie big man Precious Achiuwa.
Lowry’s strong connections to Toronto, though, remain intact. He told Portland Trail Blazers player CJ McCollum on the Pull Up with CJ McCollum podcast that a part of him would always remain in Toronto.
“To me, the city and the nation are everything. Both of my children grew raised in Toronto. They didn’t know anything else. That is where they call home. Everything that has happened in my life, from the greatest of basketball honors to the lowest of basketball honours, has occurred in Toronto. All of my All-Stars, my gold medal year, and my title. It means the world to me. And no one can convince me otherwise; ‘It’s Canada,’ it doesn’t matter. It’s where I call home.
“I grew into a man there. That is where I developed into the person I am now. It means everything to me to be a member of that organization, that nation, and that city. I wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t given me that opportunity and that chance.”
When his playing days are done, there’s a high possibility Lowry will return to Canada, at least based on his strong feelings. After all, there’s always that shared championship with Kawhi Leonard.
Lowry reflects on his time with Kawhi Leonard this season.
Kyle Lowry (L) and Kawhi Leonard celebrate after the Toronto Raptors won Game 6 to win their first NBA title in 2019. | Getty Images/Lachlan Cunningham
With Kyle Lowry at the point, the Raptors had unparalleled success. Lowry was at the center of it all, from the franchise’s first 50-win season in 2015–16 to five years in a row with 50 or more wins. In 2018, Toronto gained championship pedigree with the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. It didn’t take long for it to become a reality.
In the deal that brought Leonard to Toronto, Lowry lost his close buddy DeMar DeRozan. The Klaw, he acknowledged, was an acquired taste.
“With Kawhi, you take on a little bit of his (personality).” He remains in the present because he is so silent. … Because of the way he works, Kawhi rubs people the wrong way because he’s like, ‘Give me the ball, and I’ll get it done.’ You may be yelling, “Kawhi, move (the ball),” but you realize he’s your team’s greatest basketball player, and huge dogs need to eat.
With Leonard in town, Lowry admits his job has shifted to that of a facilitator rather than a scorer.
“I wasn’t concerned about myself since I was a bench player. It doesn’t matter to me as long as we win.”
Lowry also said that DeRozan and Leonard have more in common than most people think.
Kyle Lowry’s graceful exit from the Raptors
Last season, there was a lot of speculation that Kyle Lowry would be traded to a contender before the trade deadline, but nothing came of it. Lowry praised the company for how it handled his issue. He said he received clear messages from Masai Ujiri, the president of basketball operations, and Bobby Webster, the general manager.
He said that he made the choice to stay with the Raptors. And he’s well aware of Miami’s expectations.
“I didn’t want to be moved and be apart from my teammates. …And it’s championship or bust for me. Going to Miami, I had the impression that’s exactly what they wanted to accomplish. Jimmy Butler is a good buddy of mine. And that’s exactly what they want to accomplish in Miami.”
Kyle Lowry has gone a long way from his childhood in North Philadelphia, and he’s learned to appreciate each step along the way.
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