Sports: Leonard’s timely text to Lowry went a long way in Raptors’ championship season - PressFrom - Canada
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SportsLeonard’s timely text to Lowry went a long way in Raptors’ championship season

09:05  16 june  2019
09:05  16 june  2019 Source:   thestar.com

Raptors coach Nick Nurse expects a better game from Kawhi Leonard on Sunday

Raptors coach Nick Nurse expects a better game from Kawhi Leonard on Sunday TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors beat defending champion Golden State in Game 1 despite an off night for superstar Kawhi Leonard. The Warriors threw the kitchen sink of defence at Leonard, who shot just 5-for-14 for 23 points in the Raptors' 118-109 victory. Raptors coach Nick Nurse expects a different game from his star in Game 2 on Sunday. "I'm expecting him to play a lot better tomorrow," Nurse said. Leonard, who missed all but nine games last season with San Antonio because of a quadriceps injury, appeared to be limping at times during Game 1.

Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard , left, celebrate the Toronto Raptors ’ There was uncertainty about Leonard ’ s health after the trade. But the Raptors went to great lengths to manage After the Raptors tied the series at two, Leonard took part in a postgame interview with an ESPN China reporter, who

Leonard , aware that Lowry and DeRozan were close, said he sent Lowry a text message after the trade. Under Nurse, both flourished this season before becoming breakout stars in the playoffs. The Raptors have questions of their own moving forward, starting with Leonard , who is bound for

Leonard’s timely text to Lowry went a long way in Raptors’ championship season© Frank Gunn Strangers less than a year ago, Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry made an instant connection and helped bring an NBA championship to Toronto.

Every significant personnel decision in the NBA is a gamble, because it’s impossible to predict how well powerful personalities will mesh, how talents on the court will blend, how or if bonds will be formed that strengthen the group or tear it apart.

It was with that in mind that Masai Ujiri made a seismic move last July, a move he thought might work but one that he wasn’t sure would.

Friday night in Oakland, in outtakes from an ESPN interview, Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard proved Ujiri something of a genius for the gamble the Toronto Raptors president took when he brought them together.

Toronto Raptors take series lead with Game 3 win over Golden State Warriors

Toronto Raptors take series lead with Game 3 win over Golden State Warriors With a 123-109 win, the Raptors dominated throughout the game. At one point, the team had a 17-point lead over the Warriors. Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 30 points and Kyle Lowry had 23 points. READ MORE: Toronto Raptors fans in California rallying in numbers ahead of NBA Finals But it was Danny Green who had a break-out performance. He sunk six three-pointers, walking away with 18 points. Pascal Siakam had 18 points and Marc Gosal had 12. For the Warriors, Stephen Curry had a strong game. He led the Warriors with 47 points followed by Draymond Green with 17 points.

Kawhi Leonard told Kyle Lowry that he knew Lowry was mad about the trade, but he wanted to find a way to Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry formed a dynamic on-court duo this season . The Kawhi Leonard trade carried some risks for the Toronto Raptors , in part because he was dealt for DeMar

But the Raptors went to great lengths to manage Leonard ’ s workload in the regular season to keep After the Raptors tied the series at two games apiece, Leonard took part in a postgame interview But this time , the Raptors had Leonard . Lowry bounced back, and Toronto didn’t lose another game

Lowry was sitting there basking in the glow of an NBA championship when Leonard, hugging his most valuable player trophy, wandered on to the set. It set off a minute of laughs and jokes and sharing of the MVP trophy and so much mutual respect that it was, in some ways, inspiring.

Two men, strangers less than a year ago, now friends forever — and forever linked to the greatest moment in franchise history.

“Obviously, like I said when I was there on my opening-day meeting, I was focused on the now, and I wanted to make history here and that’s all I did,” Leonard said.

And all it took to set the wheels in motion was a quick, simple text.

Leonard knew how close Lowry was to DeMar DeRozan when the seminal trade between the Raptors and San Antonio Spurs went down last July, and he knew it would not be easy for Lowry to accept such a gigantic change to his professional life.

NBA Finals 2019: Raptors move to within 1 game of championship with Game 4 win

NBA Finals 2019: Raptors move to within 1 game of championship with Game 4 win Kawhi Leonard was unstoppable once again as he carried the Raptors to a victory in Game 4.

Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry completed a long championship journey Thursday night. Only after it ended could the principals acknowledge its complexities. Kawhi Leonard came to Toronto as a hoped-for savior this NBA season .

— The more the Toronto Raptors were around Kawhi Leonard this season , the more they took on his personality. By time the playoffs arrived That even-keeled persona, led by Leonard ’ s consistently wonderful effort, propelled the Raptors to their first championship in the franchise’s 24-year history.

“When he texted me it was a quick text, and just showed the type of person he is,” Lowry said in the aftermath of Toronto’s championship performance over the Golden State Warriors. “Willing to reach out, understanding that this situation was a little bit sensitive. But he knew that he felt something could be done special with our group.”

It has been interesting to see the relationship between Lowry and Leonard evolve in the one memorable season they have shared, a study in character and commitment and personal dynamics.

They could not be much different personally, the 31-year-old from Philadelphia and the 27-year-old Californian. While hardly gregarious all the time, Lowry is a far more open book than Leonard is. They don’t share the same personal bond that Lowry and DeRozan did. They are different and theirs is a different relationship — not necessarily better or worse than any before it, in the enclave of the Raptors locker room.

Kawhi to Lowry after trade: 'Let's go out and do something special'

Kawhi to Lowry after trade: 'Let's go out and do something special' Kawhi to Lowry after trade: 'Let's go out and do something special'

Kyle Lowry holds Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy after defeating the Golden State What does matter is that now – as long as they can keep the band together – is that the Leonard era has just begun. Over the course of two months, Canadians didn’t just discover Leonard or the Raptors or

Kawhi Leonard , Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry and the rest of Toronto’ s terrific ensemble cast have, at times , looked dominant in these finals. With Golden State undermanned and emotionally drained, the Raptors could easily take advantage and clinch a championship on the road in an arena in which

The relationship was built on one common goal: the pursuit of excellence.

Leonard’s arrival meant Lowry’s load in the Raptors offence could be scaled back so that the gritty point guard could do what he does best: play hard and lead by example.

Lowry’s presence gave Leonard something of a kindred basketball spirit, someone to analyze the game and the team with.

“Probably out of everybody who I talk to about film, the most is Kyle,” Leonard said during the just-completed NBA Finals. “Me and him will watch film or talk to each other, see what we are seeing on the floor, either for ourselves or positions to make our teammates better.”

And that is the essence of their relationship: an intense desire to push themselves, each other and their team to untold heights. It’s been fun to watch it blossom, fun to see them take the Raptors to the team’s first championship. The gamble Ujiri took paid off, regardless of what the future brings.

The Leonard text may go down as one of the most significant small steps a Raptor has ever taken.

“The guys here have been making runs in the playoffs before I came, so I know they were a talented team,” Leonard said. ”And I just came in with the right mindset: Let’s go out and win ball games.

“I texted Kyle probably a day later — or the day that I got traded — and told him. I said: Let’s go out and do something special. I know your best friend left, I know you’re mad, but let’s make this thing work out.”

Doug Smith is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @smithraps

Rick Zamperin: What if Kawhi Leonard doesn’t stay in Toronto?.
NBA free agency opens Sunday night and Kawhi Leonard is planning to meet with the Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, L.A. Lakers and L.A. Clippers.

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