Thank you, Kyle Lowry
By Gage Smith, Sports Editor
On July 11, 2012, the Houston Rockets traded point guard Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors for Gary Forbes and a first round pick. Houston was unloading a backup point guard with injury problems. Toronto was making a low-key, low-risk move to flesh out their roster. It wasn’t exactly a blockbuster deal.
What neither of those teams could’ve known at the time was how Lowry would go on to become a six-time all-star and help bring home Toronto’s first NBA championship in 2019. He would become the franchise’s all-time leader in assists, three-pointers, steals, and triple-doubles. He would be second only to long-time Raptor teammate and friend DeMar DeRozan on Toronto’s all-time points, field goals, and games played leaderboards. Lowry would go on to be widely regarded as the greatest Toronto Raptor of all time.
When he was traded to the Raptors, Lowry says he had to find his way in a city, country, and culture that were all new to him.
“I was a 26-year-old still trying to find his way, beginning to understand that I was a valued asset in the league but not yet understanding how to be the leader I needed to be. I wanted to be the best version of myself but didn’t know how to get there,” Lowry wrote in his farewell letter to Toronto.
When he touched down in Toronto in 2012, the Raptors hadn’t won a playoff series in over a decade. Lowry and his backcourt-mate DeRozan would get it done in just their fourth season together, taking down Paul George’s Indiana Pacers in seven hotly-contested games. Lowry led Toronto in assists through every game of the series.
After surviving another seven-game thriller against the Miami Heat, Toronto would have their first encounter with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Raptors were having one of their best seasons ever, but James was on his way to his sixth-straight NBA Finals and would not be denied of it. Toronto put up a strong fight that included a 20-point first half from Lowry in a game four victory, but the Cavs would win the series in six games on the back of historic numbers from James.
The Cavs clearly only won the championship that year because Lowry blessed their playoff run, saying to LeBron “You a bad motherf’er,” and “to go win it all.”
Toronto would be eliminated by James’ Cavs en route to a finals run for the next two postseasons. The Raptors appeared to have hit a wall, and their front office broke the hearts of their entire city by trading the beloved DeRozan for superstar Kawhi Leonard.
Lowry said he felt “betrayed” by the move because his good friend DeMar felt betrayed. In the modern NBA, it’s common for a disgruntled player to look for a way out.
Lowry stuck around. It’s a good thing he did, too, because Raptors won it all in 2019.
As his teammates held the Larry O’Brien trophy and Kawhi held the Finals MVP award, Lowry addressed the crowd: “Toronto! Canada! We brought it home, baby!”
Lowry spent nine years in Toronto. He captivated a generation of Canadian basketball fans by playing with grit and heart every game. Although he asked to be traded to Miami this summer, he’ll always be remembered as a Raptor.
“Toronto will forever be my second home,” he said in his farewell letter. “I will always be tied to the franchise, the city, and the country of Canada which makes me so happy to say.”
Thank You, Kyle Lowry.