TORONTO — Star point guard Kyle Lowry is leaving the Raptors to sign with the Miami Heat, ending a successful nine-season run in Toronto that included seven straight playoff appearances and the franchise’s lone NBA championship in 2019.
Here are five memorable moments from the player often called the “greatest Raptor of all time.”
LEAVING IT ALL ON THE FLOOR
The Raptors finished their surprise 2014 playoff appearance with a crushing 104-103 loss to the Brooklyn Nets in Game 7 of their first-round series.
Lowry, who scored a game-high 28 points in the contest, had a chance to send the Raptors to the second round, but his buzzer-beating shot attempt was blocked by Paul Pierce.
Lowry remained prone on the hardwood of the then-Air Canada Centre as teammate and friend DeMar DeRozan came over to console him. Despite the loss, the crowd sent the home side off the court on its shield with a boisterous chant of “Let’s Go Raptors.”
It was arguably in that moment that the legend of Kyle Lowry was born in Toronto.
Lowry, who was set to become a free agent after the season and was almost traded to the New York Knicks earlier in the campaign, re-signed in Toronto and became the engine of the greatest era of the team’s history.
SILENCING HIS CRITICS
Unfairly or not, Lowry had a reputation as a post-season underperformer as the Raptors entered the 2019 playoffs.
While he had some good playoff performances that flew under the radar, his inability to help the Raptors overcome LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers along with clunkers like his zero-point performance against Orlando in Toronto’s first-round series opener in 2019 loomed large.
However, Lowry emphatically shed this ignominious reputation with a stellar performance in the Raptors’ title-clinching Game 6 win at Golden State. He scored Toronto’s first 11 points to give it the hot start it needed and finished the game with 26 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.
Chasing the Cavaliers for top spot in the Eastern Conference, Lowry scored a career-high 43 points to lead the Raptors to a come-from-behind 99-97 win over LeBron and co., on Feb. 26, 2016.
That included the winner on a long two over Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova with time winding down. It was an all-around great performance from Lowry, who also had nine assists, five rebounds and four steals on the night.
NEVER SAY DIE
As a team-first point guard, Lowry likes to act as a floor general and get his teammates involved in the offence.
Sometimes, however, he has to do some heavy lifting to lift his squad to a win. Such was the case in Game 6 of Toronto’s second-round series against Boston in the 2020 playoffs.
Lowry played 53 minutes in Toronto’s hard-fought 125-122 win, scoring game-high 33 points, pulling down eight rebounds and adding six assists. Just as crucial as his timely buckets was his elite defence, particularly in the fourth quarter.
Lowry is known as a cerebral and tough player, and is masterful at combining these two traits by getting in opponents’ way to take a charge, resulting in an offensive foul against the offending player and a momentum-changing turnover.
While Lowry’s penchant for inducing charges is well-known in Toronto, it’s not the type of flashy skill that moves the needle among the larger NBA fan base.
The basketball world got to see the master in action during the 2020 all-star game, when Lowry took two charges — virtually unheard of for the offensive showcase that is light on tough defence. He first got in the way of former teammate Kawhi Leonard, then drew a late charge on James Harden that even got celebrity attendee Spike Lee out of his seat.