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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 14, 2020
Kyle Lowry emerged from a prolonged absence just as you would expect.
The Raptors star was feisty and as combative as ever, which is about par for the course when he’s dealing with media types as he was on Monday.
When Raptors GM Bobby Webster happened to stroll past the media location and spotted Lowry being interviewed, you could hear him teasing his team leader about finally relenting and sitting down for one of these never-ending Zoom conference calls with the scribes back in Toronto.
“Don’t worry,” Lowry fired back at his GM. “They won’t hear from me for another month.”
Clearly four months away from the media has done nothing to change his attitude towards us.
But Lowry admits there has been change in him. Really, how can anyone say they haven’t changed as we’ve all been going about our daily lives in a much different way since the pandemic began.
For Lowry, it has meant the first time in his children’s lives that he has been able to be at home with them in Philadelphia at this time of year and really experience family life and all that comes with it.
“I got to put my kids to bed almost every single night,” Lowry said. “I haven’t done that in their whole lives. To be home and be around them and to see them grow and to help them with their schoolwork and to sit there with them on Zooms, to be able to be there and interact with them all the time, it helped me grow even more as a father, as a man. It made me appreciate my wife a little bit more and my family a lot more because my kids, they’re a handful. But they’re awesome. My time at home was great.”
Basketball, the love of his life long before he found his wife and had his kids, was on the periphery for a while, but it was still there too.
Lowry, in fact, wound up having a rather large say in how this NBA re-start would go.
Initially, he was a member of the competition committee, but that role morphed into a working group consisting of Player’s Association president Chris Paul along with Lowry, Russell Westbrook, Jayson Tatum and Toronto native Dwight Powell, who worked hand-in-hand with commissioner Adam Silver in developing the health and safety protocols for the recently opened NBA campus at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
“It kind of fell into my lap a little bit with how it happened,” Lowry admitted. “But it was interesting to come up with some of the concepts and to talk that over, and understand (not just) what we’re trying to do but how we’re trying to do it, and make sure that it’s done the right way for all the players, coaches, and it’s safe and in the most healthiest way we possibly can do it.
“I think that we’ve done a good job so far with the safety aspects, the health aspects. I think there’s definitely going to be some adjustments that need to be made, but that’s the one thing about our league and our professionals, is that we make adjustments on the fly and we’re able to.”
Lowry has been on the campus since the team arrived on Thursday and likes what he sees.
“I think our protocols and our health and safety measures have been top notch. I think this thing will work perfectly, I think the league, the player’s association has done a great job, a phenomenal job of making sure that we’re doing everything that we can possibly do to make sure that we’re healthy, we’re safe and we’re in an environment where we can be successful and to do our jobs at a high level,” Lowry said.
Now obviously not everything about the setup is ideal. First and foremost, for it to have a chance of working, the actual number of bodies inside the NBA campus had to be kept to a minimum and that means no family members until after the first round of the playoffs, at which point 14 of the 22 teams will have already been sent home.
“It’s going to suck,” Lowry said of being away from his family. “But my boys understand the sacrifices that have to be made to live the type of life that we live, and they understand that their dad has to go to their job and he has to go to work.”
Lowry spent about 15 minutes on the call, but very little of it was about his own game and where that stands now.
Head coach Nick Nurse filled in those gaps for Lowry, pointing out that Lowry arrived in tip-top shape and has been putting in the kind of work one would expect of a guy who is seriously looking at repeating last year’s championship run.
“He’s practising hard. Shooting the ball at an incredible rate. He looks great,” Nurse said.
But as good as Lowry has already been this year prior to the shutdown, Nurse said there’s a very real possibility that there is another level to be reached in the coming playoffs given how fresh he is after that long break and certainly given the changes in this year’s team from last year.
“I think … he knows he’s got to be kind of a main cog, right?,” Nurse began. “He’s got to, you know, produce offensively for us. You know he’s always going to play hard and make the defensive plays, but he’s got to be a main factor in the offense and he kind of carries himself that way I think this year a lot more.”
In a year with plenty of growth for a man already well into his career, it would only be fitting to find some more at the most important time of the year.
Toronto’s aspirations of a repeat may depend on it.
‘WE NEED TO BE HEARD FROM’
When Lowry wasn’t enjoying family life in Philly or helping the NBA find its restart button over this pandemic, he was in the streets fighting the fight of social injustice through protests and marches.
Lowry said that part of this really abnormal year is only just getting started.
“We are in a time where we need to keep that conversation going,” he said of the protests that began following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. “We need to be heard from. We need to speak loud and clear. We need to understand that things need to be done for the situation to be changed, laws to be changed.
“Opportunities need to be given for things to be better. It wasn’t just about one person. One person kind of set it off, but a lot of other people have gone through this (trauma) of getting killed by police. This time we needed to speak up and needed to do something.
“For me to be a part of that, that’s who I am. That’s how I am,” Lowry continued. “That’s how I grew up. I grew up a Black man in America. It’s definitely a tough thing to grow up that way, because you never know what could possibly happen to you. You never know if you’re going to make it out.
“For me to be able to talk to you guys is a blessing. So for me to be able to do that, it’s my right, my duty and my honour to represent the Black culture.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020