Kyle Lowry’s legacy will forever be tied to Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors, for all the right reasons. The star point guard helped usher in the most successful era of basketball in franchise history. It all culminated with the team’s first-ever championship in 2019, with Lowry playing a crucial role in that game.
It’s no surprise, then, that Kyle Lowry received a major tribute for him when he returned to Toronto for the first time since his time with the Miami Heat. The team has put together a great tribute video for him, detailing everything that defined his time with the team (including his iconic charges). Ujiri himself intervened on the videocalling Lowry the greatest Raptor of all time.
“Is Kyle the greatest Raptor that’s ever played the game here?” Yes he is.”
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 3, 2022
Lowry’s tenure with the Raptors began in 2012, when he was acquired by the team in a mid-season trade to the Memphis Grizzlies. At the time, Lowry was just an average point guard. He had talent, but never seemed to have a team that was willing to give him a chance to showcase his wares. He was able to seize this opportunity and he ran a mile with it.
Alongside DeMar DeRozan, Lowry helped the Raptors slowly climb back to relevance. After years of languishing in the basement, the team suddenly became perennial playoff contenders. However, time and again Lowry and the team would fail, often losing to LeBron James and the Cavs back then.
In 2019, after yet another loss to the Cavaliers, Ujiri and the Raptors were at a major crossroads. They knew the team needed to improve, but any meaningful change would require breaking up the Lowry-DeRozan duo. In the end, Ujiri effectively chose Lowry, as he sent DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for superstar forward Kawhi Leonard.
The rest, as they say, is history. Lowry repaid Ujiri’s faith in him by becoming the perfect second fiddle to the new Leonard. He also took on more of a leadership role, becoming the team’s mentor and on-field coach. It all came together in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, where a classic Kyle Lowry game won the Raptors the first NBA title in franchise history.
Last offseason, Lowry asked to leave the Raptors. The team was in a rebuilding phase and Lowry did not fit his schedule. Plus, the star point guard knew he still had what it takes to help a team win a ring. Ujiri honored his request, ultimately sending him to an Eastern Conference rival in the Miami Heat.
Now the Raptors are entering a new phase. Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, two of Lowry’s former proteges, are now the team’s leaders. Rookie Scottie Barnes has been a revelation for them, along with OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr. and Precious Achiuwa. They’re a completely different side to the 2019 Championship squad, but the traces of Lowry’s influence can still be seen in these guys when they play: dogged defense and a will to do whatever it takes to get the win. .
Lowry would get his “revenge” against the Raptors in his first game at Scotiabank Arena, leading the Heat to a big win. It was a perfect Lowry-esque game, the kind that endeared it to the fan base in the first place. His return to where it all began couldn’t have been more perfect.