Kyle Lowry Is The Paragon Of Toughness

Ryan Fan
6 min readJun 24, 2019
From kyle_lowry7 on Instagram

“You’re an animal, dog.” Paul Pierce told Kyle Lowry five years ago. “You’re an animal.”

The words came after Game 7 of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs of the Toronto Raptors against the Brooklyn Nets, where the Raptors fell to the Nets. Lowry, along with his best friend DeMar DeRozan, recently led the Raptors to a resurgent and franchise-best record of 48–34 after a putrid 6–12 start.

The Raptors were down by one point with six seconds left. Greivis Vasquez inbounded to Kyle Lowry five feet from the three-point line, and Lowry is closely guarded by Deron Williams, and then double teamed by Williams and Kevin Garnett. But Lowry brilliantly splits both defenders and seems to get a clear shot and easy layup to take the game and the series for the Raptor…and then his shot is blocked by Pierce at the basket.

It’s essential to note how far Lowry and the Raptors had come that season. They hadn’t made the playoffs since 2008, and the team trading away Rudy Gay at the 6–12 mark of the season was supposed signaled the start of a rebuild.

But it didn’t.

Now, Kyle Lowry and the Raptors are champions. And the journey for the Raptors here was rocky, and, at times, incredibly disheartening, so it is essential, for me, to account for how Lowry became an NBA champion.

At the start of the 2013–2014 season, it seemed like Lowry’s career may have been done. A journeyman who clashed with his coaches in both Houston and Memphis and couldn’t seem to find a home, no one ever doubted Lowry’s toughness as a player. He was stubbornly confident, always willing to go for a loose ball and likely win every 50–50 ball. And although that confidence was his fuel, it was also, in the words of Jonathan Abrams, former Grantland writer, “the hindrance that threatened him from reaching his potential.” And on most teams he’d been on, the hindrance outweighed the fuel. Teams didn’t trust him as “the man.”

And the only time a team did was when the Raptors did after the Rudy Gay trade, in an attempt to tank the season. Rudy Gay, a ball-dominant player, wasn’t the right fit to be on the floor the same time as DeRozan and Lowry, leading to no spacing on the floor, as the start of the season was evidence to.

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Ryan Fan

Believer, Baltimore City IEP Chair, and 2:39 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire.” Support me by becoming a Medium member: https://bit.ly/39Cybb8