In the Paint
Join Date: Dec 2007
Kyle Makes the Front Page
I want to post most of the article, because it is high profile and some of you might not be able to read it without a subscription. It was nice seeing Kyle staring out from the newspaper box this morning.
Raptors' Kyle Lowry a changed man, but will he stay in T.O.? | Raptors
| Sports | Toronto Sun
The first meeting came last summer in Philadelphia.
It wasn’t the last meeting.
Masai Ujiri was pretty clear with Kyle Lowry: As an NBA rival before coming to Toronto, he had come to appreciate Lowry’s talents, but like most people who watched him, he had questions.
“Sometimes you’d see his body language,” said Ujiri, the Raptors’ first-year general manager. “And I’d think, ‘Why is he like that?’
“You would hear the stuff about him, about the coaches he doesn’t get along with and that kind of thing. So I flew to Philly and went to see him. We had lunch. I told him what I expected. I was going to give him a platform, a chance. That’s kind of how it all started with him.”
Then they met a few more times in the pre-season. Same conversation.
“Same thing,” said Ujiri. “There were a couple of things that happened where we had to have some serious conversations. I had to be a little bit hard on him. But since then, it’s been good.”
This is the season of Kyle Lowry’s coming-out party as an NBA player, the first year in which he has stopped being a distraction and has played the part of star for Ujiri’s Toronto Raptors. You can argue that aside from the individual great seasons Vince Carter had in Toronto, no Raptor since has had a year as complete as the one Lowry is experiencing with the team.
“He’s our grit and our grind,” said coach Dwane Casey, who admits he had to learn to work with Lowry.
“I think he’s really grown up as a man. Getting married and having a child has really helped him. You can see he’s calmer now. Things don’t rattle him as much. And he’s become a better teammate.
“He’s always had the reputation of being hard to coach. We had a period of time where we had to get to know each other. But he’s becoming the player he wants to be. And he’s becoming the man I know he wants to be. And he’s doing away with the reputation that he’s had. It’s a small league. And he’s outgrowing his reputation.”
Kyle Lowry smiles when he begins to talk about his family, his wife Ayahna, his two-year-old son Karter.
“It’s crazy, I’ve had a lot of changes in my life, but so much has changed in the last while,” said the 27-year-old Lowry in a long, engaging conversation. “I’ve got a family, a wife, my son. I’ve grown up and had to understand what you’ve got to do to be a professional.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, personally and professionally. But the growth has come fast and furious (in recent years). It took a while for it to come.
“I don’t play for me anymore. He’s (Karter) my life. He’s my heart. He’s why I go out every single day and I smile. I do my job and he knows, at the end of the day, I’m coming home to him, with him smiling and laughing and saying, ‘Hey daddy’ or ‘Good morning, daddy.’ And when you hear a voice like that, I don’t think you can ever be mad.
“He’s going to grow up a lot differently than I grew up. For me, this puts everything into perspective. It ain’t about you. It’s about that kid you’re caring for and the family you have.
“I feel so fortunate. A great year like this one, a great family, a great team. I count my teammates as family. Just like my real family. Today (Monday), we’re travelling to Atlanta, we’re on the same plane, we’re at the same hotel, we’ll see each other at dinner, we’re always together, like family.”
And yet, Lowry — like his coach Casey — are secure yet in flux, having terrific seasons but with their futures somewhat uncharted. Both are at the end of contracts. Both are having all-star-type seasons. Both are political enough to understand there may be a future with the Raptors — or another one elsewhere. Nothing is clear yet.
“I told Kyle, when (NBA) people talk about you it’s not like they dissect your game or kill your game,” said Ujiri. “A lot of people who talk about you are talking about maybe the attitude or the problem with coaches — it’s always this part. It’s never the game.
“I said to him, ‘You’ve got to work on that. Why would you allow that part to stop you from getting where you want to go?’ ”
Ujiri told him to “take care of your future, money wise. You can go from being a couple-of-million player to more money, a lot more money. There’s a lot of possibilities here.”
And what now, I asked, about being a star?
“I don’t think I’m a star,” said Lowry. “I can’t compare myself to Vince (Carter). I can’t compare myself to (Chris) Bosh. I’m just a guy with a great group around me. I think DeMar (DeRozan) is the star. Me, personally, I’m just a guy who runs this team and is very passionate about winning. I want to get this organization and this city to the playoffs. I have some things I want to do. I want to do some damage in the playoffs. I don’t just want to get into the playoffs, I want to have some fun in the playoffs.”
STAYING OR GOING? LOWRY WON’T COMMIT
Will he or won’t he?
For now, Kyle Lowry is being coy about his future with the Toronto Raptors. The pending free-agent guard won’t come out and say one way or the other if he wants to stay or if he wants to play elsewhere next season.
When asked directly about his future on Monday, Lowry answered: “Honestly, I want to be in the best situation. This is a great situation in general. This city, the place, the organization is unbelievable. I can’t say too much about it because I love the place.”
So if he feels that way, why not say you want to remain a Raptor?
“At the end of the day, I haven’t had the chance to sit down and really think about it,” said Lowry, fudging the truth ever so slightly. “Honestly, I just want to win these games and get to the playoffs.
“I’m proving (the perception about me) wrong. Me and my agent talk about it all the time. He says, you don’t get judged on that no more. I’m at a point where it’s about winning for me. I have an opportunity, we have an opportunity as a team. I just want to win for me and for those guys in the locker room.”
Said general manager Ujiri: “I tell Kyle, you were almost an all-star this year and that baggage, everybody has put that away. Next year, when it comes to being voted in as an all-star, they’ll look at that and say that’s in the past. Next year, baggage is not an issue.”
And while others may have an issue with Lowry performing like an all-star in a contract year, Ujiri does not.
“Kyle is 27 years old,” said Ujiri. “He’s still got some great basketball in him. For me, I treat people as human beings. If you want to make money and pack it in, that says something about you.
“That’s not his nature in my opinion. He’s a bulldog. He’s a fighter. The basketball part has never been a question in my mind. The other parts — body language, attitude, questioning authority, coaches, all that — he’s gotten so much better at that.”