Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ujiri Credits Lowry for Running with the Opportunity to Lead the Raptors

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ujiri Credits Lowry for Running with the Opportunity to Lead the Raptors

Article excerpt

Ujiri proud of Lowry's growth in Toronto

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TORONTO - Masai Ujiri was talking to Kyle Lowry earlier this week about his point guard's training plans for this coming summer.

Halfway through the Toronto Raptors' finest season, and on the cusp of playing in his first NBA all-star game, Lowry wanted to talk about his desire to get better.

"That tells you more about him," said Ujiri, the Raptors president and GM. "He's not relaxing. He wants to win, and he wants to try and win big. That's what he wants, and he's not just any player but your point guard, your lead player."

The 29-year-old Lowry has taken a longer, bumpier route to this weekend's all-star game in New York than the NBA superstars he'll be dishing out assists to. There were stops in Memphis and Houston, and by the time he arrived in Toronto he'd been painted with the reputation of being a tough guy to coach.

But Toronto has brought out the best in Lowry. He's averaging a career high 18.8 points a night, and continues to endear himself to fans with his heart and hustle. He is the team leader in taking charges, a lunging and diving example of a putting one's body on the line.

He had the most memorable moment of Wednesday night's 95-93 win over Washington. Lowry made like he was on a Slip 'N Slide, sliding 15 feet on his belly to beat John Wall to a loose ball. The daring dive ripped the skin off Lowry's palms.

Earlier this season, he chased a loose ball right over the front row of fans, coming up with a face-full of ice cream sandwich.

"I am super (proud)," Ujiri said, before boarding a flight to New York for the weekend's all-star festivities. "I texted him yesterday and I told him, I'm so proud of him."

Lowry, at first, seemed to live up to his troubling reputation in Toronto, as he battled Jose Calderon for minutes. He has called his relationship with coach Dwane Casey "rocky." But the Raptors cobbled together a special chemistry last season, with Lowry as their leader. He led them through a playoff series with the Brooklyn Nets that captured the imagination of fans across the country. …

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