Raptors Cage

Recapping Woj’s Brilliant Lowry Article

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Recently, the brilliant Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a piece that takes you right up the ACC tower, revolving around Toronto Raptors PG Kyle Lowry. I swear, this guy is connected to high-end personnel in every organization.

Is it kind of cheap that we don’t have any actual original content today and are essentially ripping off a Woj article? Maybe, but the article was so good that I’m going to do it anyway. And don’t worry – there are some original pieces coming your way soon enough.

Ujiri climbed out of his seat, marched across the room, lifted a binder from his desk and pretended to pass it into imaginary hands. Someday, Ujiri told him, this will be you walking up to NBA general managers at the Chicago predraft camp, trying to get a scouting job. They’ll want no part of you, no part of your reputation. Ujiri told Lowry he’d be playing out his career on one-year deals on the low end of the NBA’s salary scale.

Ujiri didn’t hear excuses out of Lowry, only noticing his knowing nods and hurting eyes. Lowry was listening. Finally, he was listening.

This speaks volumes about the relationship Masai Ujiri and Lowry have formed. We all knew KL had the talent, however Masai has been the first one to actually use that properly. It’s not a one-way street by any means; Lowry knew he had to smarten up. Considering the way Masai composes himself, it really is fascinating to just imagine how that conversation went.

“I had to look at myself in the mirror,” Lowry told Yahoo Sports over a shrimp salad inside the e11even restaurant in Rogers Centre. “I know what people are saying now, ‘Oh it’s a contract year,’ but it’s bigger than that for me. Yes, I want a contract. And then I want to outgrow that one and get another one. But I want to win. I want to grow. And to grow, you’ve got to be able accept coaching.

“But I didn’t want to be a backup. I hated that label. I did not want to be a backup in this league. I wasn’t going to settle for it, and I think it rubbed people the wrong way. But I didn’t want to be labeled as a journeyman, or a guy who has the talent, but just can’t get it together. I wanted the label of a guy who’s a winner. That’s the most important label you can have in this league.”

Ujiri passed on a chance to trade Lowry at the deadline, and wants to sign him to a long-term extension this summer. Lowry could command $10-12 million a year on the market, especially in a summer where the Los Angeles Lakers have cap space and a running mate for Kobe Bryant.

Interesting. We all knew Ujiri could have traded Lowry at the deadline. In fact, Woj stated that Houston – the team that dealt him due to his attitude – tried to re-acquire him. However, Masai clearly believes in Lowry as the point guard of the future, and he must have full confidence in being able to re-sign him.

“I told him, ‘If you squander this opportunity, this is it for you,’ ” Billups told Yahoo Sports. “I kept telling him, ‘You going go Toronto was like me going to Detroit.’ That was my last real chance, and that was the case for him there now, too.

“I thank Chauncey all the time, and I tell him, ‘I want to try and be better than you,’ ” Lowry says. ” ‘But first, I want to be … like you.’ He would tell me to handle a situation the way that he would, to never get frustrated, to be a man. I still hear him saying, ‘You’ve got to take responsibility for your talent.’

“Shoot, I’m nowhere near him. …He’s an All-Star. He’s a Finals winner. A Team USA gold medalist. He’s Mr. Big Shot. Some of those are goals might be too late for me to achieve, but they’re some things still there for me to chase.

I really like the analogy. Billups was another player that floated around and finally found home in Detroit. If Toronto is Lowry’s ‘Detroit’, and he realizes that, there is no way he’s leaving. Yes, Lowry knew about all of the trade rumors. But he also realizes that the Raptors kept him because they believed in him.

Months later, after a trade to the Raptors, Lowry was sitting in a mid-April exit meeting with Raptors executives Bryan Colangelo and Ed Stefanski, and coach Dwane Casey. With Jose Calderon gone for good, Colangelo laid it out to Lowry in simple terms: Can you play for Casey?

Do you have any issues?

“I’ll play my ass off for him,” Lowry said.

Colangelo obviously wasn’t the only factor in Lowry’s turnaround, but it’s clear that many individuals in this organization really pushed him to realize his full potential.

An old Villanova and Raptors guard, Alvin Williams, told Lowry something upon his trade to Toronto that still resonates.

“If you ever get this city to the playoffs, they’ll never forget you.”

Playoffs, playoffs playoffs! That line has got to give you the chills.

I highly encourage you to read the full thing. It’s long, but my eyes were locked in as soon as I started reading.


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