Kyle Lowry has his say, on and off the pitch

MIAMI – For a long time, the scowl on Kyle Lowry’s face seemed permanently etched. He used that nervousness to come out of his meager debut in Philadelphia as he sought stability early in his NBA career.

“I knew I was good,” Lowry said over breakfast at a hotel here. “I knew I was a starter. But I still had to prove it. I still had the chip on my shoulder. I still had to do this, that and the other. And I always play like that.

That determination blossomed in Toronto, where Lowry, 35, provided fundamental stability over nine seasons, six All-Star spots and a championship in 2019. But it all only happened after he stepped down. is beaten for time and was traded for Memphis, who drafted him. in 2006, then Houston during his first six years in the league.

The stage is now set for Lowry to begin the final arc of his playing career with the Miami Heat, who will be hoping the addition of a veteran point guard with a championship pedigree will get them back in the race for a title. The Heat made it to the NBA Finals in the 2019-20 season on a pandemic break, but last season was quickly shipped by the Milwaukee Bucks.

During the offseason, Lowry signed a three-year contract with Miami worth nearly $ 90 million, joining a reorganized team with the intention of making Milwaukee’s tenure atop the Eastern Conference. a brief stay. Lowry was a prized target of free agents after a mid-career spell that made him synonymous with the Raptors.

“We all agreed that it was about time,” Lowry said of his departure from Toronto. “It’s hard to put into words. It was just time. For me, I knew that with Miami it was the right situation, the right time, the right place, the right people, whatever it took.

His trip to Toronto started with questions – he was the team’s backup plan after an unsuccessful Steve Nash landing attempt – with a championship and ended in a season no one could have predicted.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the Raptors to relocate to Tampa, Florida for their home games in 2020-21. Toronto recovered from a shaky start, only for the season to collapse when Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and others ran out of time due to virus protocols.

“The city of Tampa was great,” said Lowry. “It was just difficult because we didn’t know what to expect day in and day out. We were in fifth place, fourth place. We hit a Covid stretch and then it was over. “

Speculation swirled over whether the franchise would deal with Lowry, who was on a one-year contract. The Heat, among other teams, made inquiries about his acquisition ahead of the March trade deadline.

Lowry had promised his teammates ahead of the season that he intended to help them compete for another championship. The team’s dismal record made such a foray unlikely, but Lowry wanted to stay true to his word as he continued the season.

The adage that sport is a business is a truism. Every now and then, the reality becomes murkier.

In 2018, the Raptors and Masai Ujiri, the team president, traded in DeMar DeRozan, a franchise cornerstone who, along with Lowry, had brought respectability and competitiveness to the organization and was beloved in the city.

Toronto acquired Kawhi Leonard from Spurs in trade, immediately won a championship and unraveled its relationship with DeRozan. This avoided a similar potential fracturing with Lowry.

“Sometimes franchises have to do what’s best for them, but I was in a position where I had a say and had a little, I wouldn’t say power – but I had a little from, “Look, it’s not going to look good if we don’t collaborate on this together,” Lowry said. “We all agreed that being on the same page was the best thing to do, and that was it.

“With DeMar not having the autonomy to make a decision, I think it was such a different circumstance. It prepared them not to do this to me.

Lowry finished the season in Toronto and still landed with the Heat. “It was really difficult for us to see an incredible player like that go,” Ujiri said at a press conference in August. “We knew it was going to happen. The leadership of our team was sort of younger and younger and Kyle still has these amazing goals. “

Lowry is one of many pointers, including Chris Paul and Mike Conley, who still play hard-hitting games in their mid-30s, a quality Lowry attributes to better modern knowledge of diets and training.

“I’ve never been super athletic,” Lowry said with a laugh. “I can dunk and all that, but I still play low to the ground. I am not explosive. And I know how not to jump when I don’t need to jump.

Lowry saw a role for himself with the Heat, a franchise hungry for another championship. He had established a relationship with Miami coach Erik Spoelstra while playing for him at an NBA Africa exhibition in South Africa in 2017. Falsifying investigations into Lowry’s signing and swapping deal with The Heat, as well as the one that got Lonzo Ball to join the Chicago Bulls, are underway, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told reporters this week.

In Miami, Jimmy Butler is Lowry’s main wingmate after spending years alongside DeRozan – “Smooth,” Lowry said of DeRozan. “They `re my best friend.”

And from Leonard: “A machine,” Lowry said. ” He does it. “

DeRozan and Leonard are two of the quieter personalities in the game. Butler, however, is a force, both vocally and on the pitch. Lowry said Butler often communicates through chains of curse words.

“I think part of it is to get him moving, because he has to go some way or another, which is drugs,” Lowry said, adding that “some people can’t do it. endure “and think Butler is a fool.

“No, that’s the way he is,” Lowry said. “Everyone has different demands on themselves. “

Butler recently told reporters the team was adjusting to how quickly Lowry picked up the ball.

“He’s always looking to throw the ball in front and put the guys in the right place. “ butler noted. “It’s amazing. It’s a blessing, and sometimes it’s a curse because you have to be in really good shape if you’re out there in what we call Kyle’s chaos.

One day, Lowry hopes to retire as a Raptor. Until then, he expects his former teammates to evolve into the roles he and DeRozan once held. Lowry, for example, was criticized for missed shots in the opening games of the 2019 Finals. He responded with 26 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds in the championship final victory.

“Freddy, OG, Pascal, now they have to take the interviews, and they have to do all the media. Because I’m the guy who was like, ‘Yo, it’s mine’,” he said, adding: “They have to take criticism, and that’s what’s going to help them grow. I want them to be the All-Stars. I want them to be champions again. I want them to have opportunities to create. of generational wealth.

Lowry’s maturity continued off the field. He once fell into the financial trap of getting a loan before his first professional game.

“If I could do it again, I would have lived in North Philly with my mom and grandma until I got a real paycheck, because then you’re just paying back,” Lowry said.

Among other activities, Lowry has made strides in venture capital and investments in real estate and private equity.

“I started to come out of who I was, to be hard-core, and I started to let people in and introduce myself,” Lowry said. “My main source of income is basketball, but I have other interests and I have people around me who are doing very well. Why not have conversations and learn things? Because when you retire, you have to make the transition. Whenever that moment comes, I hope not for a very, very long time, I will make decisions about the management of businesses. “

The grimace fades. The chip on the shoulder remains. Lowry’s chase, on and off the field, continues.

“You’re happy, but what’s the next step? Lowry said. “How to get another transition? How are you evolving? How do you keep improving? “


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