If there’s one downside to the Toronto Raptors winning an NBA championship, it’s that the cathartic celebration that followed it felt a little short-lived. The league moves fast that time of year, and when the Finals are over, there’s scarcely time to catch your breath before the draft, free agency, and Summer League start the cycle all over again.
But boy, was it fun while it lasted. The championship parade in the streets of Toronto had its share of epic moments (or the Canadian equivalent), including a rather toasty Marc Gasol underscoring the benefits of a European upbringing that had him well-acquainted with the pleasures of a fine vintage.
The champagne had barely dried before Kawhi Leonard made his decision to join the Clippers alongside Paul George, which leaves the Raptors with plenty of questions about how to move forward. But Kyle Lowry, for his part, wasn’t taken by surprise. Nor does he hold any grudges toward his former teammate. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Lowry told Michael Lee of The Athletic that not only was he prepared for this contingency, he still sees the Raptors as a legit threat to defend their title.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Lowry said. “He texted me and let me know. I told him, ‘I’m happy for you.’ That’s how I’ve always been. I’m happy for the guys, especially a guy that helped you do something fantastic. Do something great. He’s an unbelievable friend of mine and he’s a good guy. He made the decision to go home and I’m happy with that and I’m happy for him. Truly, I am genuinely happy for him. He gets a chance to be around his family and friends and you’ve got to respect the guy and be happy for him.
“He gave us everything he had,” Lowry continued. “He played his butt off. He helped us win a championship. You’ve got to respect that, right?”
Both Lowry and the Raptors organization knew the risks going into the season. It was a chance they were willing to take, and the result was the team’s first championship in franchise history.
Afterward, Lowry made clear that he wasn’t going to waste time actively recruiting Kawhi to stay, with the understanding that they two sides had accomplished their shared goal and that Kawhi had long reiterated his desire to return to his hometown of Los Angeles. The Raptors find themselves at a crossroads, but even an uncertain future is much more palatable now that they’ve reached the ultimate goal of winning and NBA title.
(Via The Athletic)