Kyle Lowry reflects on Toronto: 'That's still home'

Published November 23, 2021, 7:00 AMNBA.com News Services

Kyle Lowry expects to be emotional in his 1st game back in Toronto in February.

Aside from DeMar DeRozan and Vince Carter, perhaps no player is more associated with the Toronto Raptors than Kyle Lowry. Such a lofty reputation is to be expected when considering Lowry is the franchise’s all-time leader in assists (4,277), steals (873), 3-pointers made and attempted and trails only DeRozan in games played and points scored.

Now a member of the Miami Heat, Lowry spoke with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated about his time in Toronto and his place as the beloved “Mr. Raptor” in franchise lore. Overall, Lowry averaged 17.5 points, 7.1 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game during his during his nine seasons in Toronto (2012-21) and was a crucial part in the franchise’s 2019 championship team.

Lowry left the Raptors in the offseason via a sign-and-trade deal with Miami as the Heat revamped itself to build a core led by Lowry, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. He will make his return to Toronto on Feb. 3, 2022 and told Spears he expects that trip back to Canada to be an emotional one.

“I’m a man’s man, but I know I’m going to be a little bit sensitive and crying that day. I don’t know. I might hold it in,” Lowry told The Undefeated. “I’ve talked to [former Raptors teammate] DeMar [DeRozan] about it. But it’s one of them days where I know it’s going to be a lot of love for me and me giving love back, it’s just going to be interesting how it goes down because I don’t know what to expect.

“It’s different when you got traded from Memphis and you go back. I still get love from Memphis, which is awesome. I still get love from Houston. This is different because I continued to grow as a person in Toronto. So eight years in the city, one year I was in Tampa, but nine years overall with one franchise is a long time.”

He was also asked about his decision to leave the Raptors for the Heat and the difficulty in leaving a team and city he had spent the majority of his career with. Lowry said the Raptors’ loss to the Boston Celtics in the 2020 playoffs after the season restart was difficult, especially considering Toronto was, at the time, the defending NBA champions.

Toronto spent the 2020-21 season away from Canada, playing all of its home games in Tampa because of health and safety protocols in Canada. Lowry called the time away from Toronto “ridiculous” and not getting to say a formal farewell to the city was difficult. He said he still remains close with Raptors president Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster and wants to wrap up his career in Toronto one way or another.

“I still text Bobby. I still text Masai. There are no hard feelings,” Lowry said. “We’ve all had an open line of communication. And for me, it was very bittersweet because I never wanted to leave. But it was more a sense of: ‘All right, my kids are getting older. I want to be somewhere where they can be stable no matter what.’

“And, yeah, everybody says you could just live in Canada, but you’d have to get a Canadian citizenship to live there. And I don’t think I would’ve lived there for the rest of my life. But I’ll be able to go back. That’s still home. Like I’ve said, and I’ll say it now, I will sign a one-day contract and I’ll retire as a Toronto Raptor. That is my everything.”

Miami spent the summer remodeling itself as Lowry was acquired from Toronto in a deal that sent Goran Dragic to the Raptors. The Heat added rugged forwards P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris as free agents, ensured Butler wouldn’t be free anytime soon by getting him to sign an extension and kept sharpshooter Duncan Robinson around with a new deal as well.

Tucker, Morris and Lowry all have NBA championships.

Even though Lowry is in Miami now, he told The Undefeated he continues to keep tabs on his old team and many of the former teammates from Toronto’s glory days.

“My goal is to create enough wealth where I can be part of something,” Lowry said. “But the sweet part about me leaving was, now Freddy [VanVleet] gets all the attention, OG [Anunoby] gets all the attention. Pascal [Siakam] gets even more of the attention. I left the franchise in a great place to my little brothers. They are truly my little brothers. No, they are family. They are equals to me. They’re just younger than me.

“I still watch their games. I’ve talked to Freddy. I’ve talked to OG and I’ve texted Pascal before his first game. I still talk to [ex-Raptors guard] Norm [Powell]. We’ve created bonds that we will have forever. And those are people, those are kids and guys that are men now that I’ll support and cheer for no matter what the situation is.”

Between Lowry, Butler, Adebayo and Robinson alone, the Heat have committed more than $500 million in contracts. All are locked up for at least the next three seasons, while Robinson is for four and Adebayo for five. Tyler Herro is extension-eligible after this season and the Heat remain quite high on his potential, so it’s possible that the current core could be Miami’s core for years to come.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.