Kyle Lowry brings swagger to Raptors
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
|Raptors guard Kyle Lowry speaks to the media at the Canada Games Center in Halifax, N.S., Sept. 2,
2012. (MARK GOUDGE/QMI Agency)
HALIFAX - Alvin Williams has been around the Raptors organization for the better part of 15 years.
He can’t recall another player who has donned a Raptors uniform with the kind of confidence and swagger point guard Kyle Lowry brings.
“I don’t see a lot of people like him,” Williams, who has known Lowry since the latter was a freshman at Villanova, said. “I see Kyle as a unique player in the NBA. I think he’s a throwback player. I think he relies on hard work, he’s not afraid of hard work and he’s willing to do that in order to be in the best. A lot of guys they say they want to be the best and they do a lot of different things, but they don’t show it through hard work and practice.”
Even this early in the process, it’s pretty clear that Lowry’s arrival in Toronto is going to dramatically change the landscape.
Words such as “soft” have never and will never be associated with Lowry.
“Kyle to me is a special type of player because he brings that demeanour and attitude aside from his skill level and I think he competes,” Williams the former Raptor and current Raptors scout said. “If you ask around the NBA and go to the top notch guards they know who he is because every night he brings that intensity.”
The same cannot be always be said of the Raptors as a whole and while Lowry admits he never paid much attention to the Raptors when they were an opponent: “It wasn’t my (job) to focus on Toronto. My focus was on my team.” It’s impossible to imagine Lowry allowing his team’s intensity or it’s toughness to be questioned.
“We need that confidence,” Casey says when asked about Lowry’s brashness. “We need that swagger and it will rub off.”
Casey paid Lowry the ultimate compliment a coach can pay a player on Tuesday. Having seen him in just a handful of pre-camp scrimmages and off of one training camp practice Tuesday so far this season, Casey was already comparing him to one of his favourite players of all-time.
“He holds guys accountable and we need that,” Casey said of Lowry. “ I had a guy in Seattle — Gary Payton — and if you didn’t do your job, George Karl never had to get on a guy because Gary was right there doing it.”
That’s not to say Lowry is Payton’s equivalent. Payton had few peers when it came to trash talking or his win-at-all-costs approach. But there does seem to be a lot of the same desire to get the job done.
Where Payton wouldn’t think twice about dressing down a teammate no matter what the setting or circumstance, Lowry, according to those who know him best, will achieve the same result in a less volatile manner — assuming of course less volatile is called for and can still be effective.
Alan Anderson and Lowry have been working out in Las Vegas every summer for at least the past five years. They share a similar competitive nature that seems to play well for the other.
“We just both like to win,” the Raptors’ Anderson said. “We train out of Vegas every summer and we compete at whatever we are doing whether it’s who gets to the gym first, who makes the most shots. Whatever it is, we just love each other’s competitiveness. We just bring it to everything we do.”
Anderson admits Lowry is capable of ruthless criticism but only if he’s sure the receiver of the criticism can handle it in such blunt terms.
“He will get after you but he picks his spots,” Anderson said. “He knows who he can be critical of and handle it and who he has to pull aside and (speak with one on one). He’s really smart that way.”
Williams has seen both sides of that too, but for now he feels, like Anderson, that Lowry’s easing his way into that role.
“To me you have to pick and choose,” Williams said. “I mean, he’s new. You have Jose Calderon here who leads this team, you have Andrea Bargnani, veteran guys who have been here. Kyle has to find his way in. He’ll pick and choose his times to approach people or fall back. In enough time he’ll be in everyone’s face.”
What no one will have to wait to see is Lowry playing the game the only way he knows how — full speed ahead.
“I am who I am and I’m going to be me no matter what,” Lowry said. “Some people say I’m a leader by nature. I’m just going to be me. I’m going to talk, I’m going to push guys, I’m going to say things and I’m going to get after it.”
Williams, who spends at least part of his summer home in Philadelphia going up against the younger Lowry has seen that “get after it” mode on multiple occasions.
“I think he just brings a different attitude,” Williams said. “He’s a very determined young man and he plays like that. He’s an undersized guy but he plays big. He tries to rebound, block shots. He tries to do everything. It’s like a Napoleon(ic) complex. He brings a sense of determination and desire to play hard all the time.”
And if Casey’s hunch proves out and that does rub off with his teammates, perhaps that wait for a playoff berth won’t get past the end of this season.
LUCAS WON'T BACK DOWN
To say John Lucas III is in the running to start at point guard for the Raptors would be a stretch.
But the former Chicago Bulls backup does not lack in confidence or optimism.
With Kyle Lowry and Jose Calderon, two guys who have already been starters in the league, the competition for starters minutes at the position is beyond tough.
But Lucas III says the competition among all three Raptors point guards can only be good for the entire team.
“When you have guys like myself and Kyle and Jose who are competitive to the point where we are picking up full court, getting to the hoop and knocking people down ... I mean it’s practice and that’s my teammate but you are not going to get behind me and score. It just shows the rest of the team it’s something different now. Now we are competing this year.”