Lowry Making Memories During Basketball-Filled Summer
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
Kyle Lowry is a low-key kind of guy. Give him his family, friends, basketball and a game of golf here and there and he'll be OK. From basketball shoes with his sons’ initials scrawled on the toes to the Villanova hat that’s usually in his locker, it isn’t hard to see what’s important to him. He keeps the things -- and people -- that are important to him close.
In addition to suiting up for his country alongside Raptors backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan this summer, an added bonus of pre-Olympics preparation was getting to hang out with Villanova coach Jay Wright during USA Basketball's training camp in Las Vegas in mid-July. Wright coached Lowry at Villanova and the two remain close. In April, Lowry made the trip to Texas to support Wright and the Wildcats as they defeated the University of North Carolina to capture its second NCAA title in team history. After Toronto’s season wrapped up, Lowry was back at Villanova, working out on a familiar court, finishing his morning workout as the Wildcats would begin their own morning session.
“Before we came out here, as soon as [the season ended],” Wright said. “He did that all last summer, too. No exaggeration. No exaggeration. We would start practice at 6:30 a.m. sometimes and he would be finishing. We would get on the court at 6:15 a.m. and he would be finishing, drenched in sweat.”
Lowry showed up to training camp last season looking leaner than he has since college. The morning workouts were huge for him, but Wright believed the example extended well beyond his own game.
“I told him I think that had an impact on our team last year,” Wright said. “Guys get on the floor like there’s no reason for me not to be ready to go to work. This guy is an All-Star. As soon as he agreed to play on this team, he started that routine again. Before we came out here, he was in there in the morning, getting ready.”
In addition to Lowry serving as the greatest kind of motivation for his players, just getting to be around one of his former players was special for Wright. As the Raptors kept extending their NBA season through the first round, second round, and finally into a six-game Eastern Conference Finals series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Wright was following along. Through watching games, checking boxscores, reading articles, and watching interviews, Wright tracked Lowry’s most successful season as a pro. He can’t speak about the growth he’s observed in his point guard without smiling.
“What has amazed me, when he was with us in college, he grew up a lot,” Wright said. “As a high school kid he was a street kid. When he got to Villanova he really grew up. Then to watch him in the NBA, each year he’s matured, but what really amazed me is even after being an All-star, he continues to mature. He continues to take on more responsibility. I said it to him that I’m so proud.”
While Lowry prepared for Rio with USA Basketball, Wright was working as an assistant with the younger Select team. The opportunity to spend time together removed from the stresses and busy-ness of their respective basketball seasons wasn’t lost on either party.
“I’m with the Select team, but I’m watching him,” Wright said. “Just his leadership out here, as a point guard, it’s really impressive. It’s great for any young person to see even after you’ve attained success you can continue to get better.”
Lowry wore an easy smile for the duration of his time in Las Vegas.
“It’s unbelievable,” Lowry said. “From where we’ve come from as a player and coach to mentor and mentee. It’s been good. It’s a good run. We’ll be able to look back on this when we’re old and grey, which is not too long from now [for him], and we’ll be able to talk about it.”
Wright has always known Lowry’s potential, but he isn’t sure that Lowry himself could have dreamed up how the last year has unfolded for him.
“I think the dream of playing in the NBA he could have imagined, but where he is as a man and as a leader, I don't think he could have even comprehended when he was in high school,” Wright said. “I think each year he saw himself growing and getting closer to it. He knew that’s what he wanted. It’s been really cool to watch.”