Kyle Lowry hasn’t always been the model teammate.
When he was on the Houston Rockets he was known as somewhat of a selfish player and late in his tenure there he regularly butted heads with coach Kevin McHale or simply just tuned him out.
“If I had allowed him to coach me, things could have worked in Houston,” Lowry wrote in The Players’ Tribune Thursday.
Lowry, born and raised in Philadelphia, explained that confrontations with coaches early in his career all stemmed from trust issues he had as a kid and into adulthood.
"In my neighbourhood, outside of my family, it was hard to trust anybody," Lowry wrote.
When he was 24, however, and still playing in Houston, his wife Ayahna gave him the news that he was going to be a father. That moment changed everything for Lowry.
"I didn’t know what I was doing when I became a parent," Lowry said. "I didn’t know how to change a diaper or burp a baby. Ayahna didn’t know what she was doing, either. So we had to trust each other to figure it out, but also trust our family and what we read in books."
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Lowry said becoming a father not only helped him grow as a man but it was a turning point in his playing career as well.
"Once you have kids, the world doesn’t revolve around you anymore. You have to give up control. You have to be patient… [My first son] Karter can be stubborn when it comes to food. In those moments, your life becomes about trying to get him to eat this cereal that’s good for him. It’s like, ‘Yo dude, you’ve got to do this! You’ve got to eat this!’
"I came to realize that Karter not wanting to eat his cereal even though he needs to. That’s me and coach McHale. He wanted me to do something so badly, and I’m just pushing back at it so hard."
Toronto acquired Lowry in July 2012, but even at the start of his tenure with the Raptors, Lowry’s bad habits were still prevalent.
"When I was traded to Toronto, I figured I’d do my thing and show my talents, but in two years I would become a free agent and I’d be gone. I didn’t try hard enough in the beginning to click with Dwane Casey. And Dwane was more comfortable with José Calderón and the style he played."
Heading into his second season, Lowry explained he had impactful conversations with his agent, Andy Miller, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri plus Ty Lue and Chauncey Billups. They all told Lowry he had to look in the mirror if he wanted things to change.
"When you respect the people saying those things, it hits you right away. You don’t second guess it. This is what they saw, and I wanted to fix it. To be a great player, I had to grow up and be more mature. Understand not everyone was out to get me, and just listen to my coach and teammates and my organization. I had to learn to be the face of a franchise. To be a leader. To be that guy.
"In December of 2013, the Raptors traded Rudy Gay to Sacramento. They handed the keys to me and DeMar DeRozan. That was trust. It was on us, something we had to take advantage of. We put pressure on ourselves. How great did we want to be?"
Lowry and DeRozan have led the Raptors admirably this season. They lead the Atlantic Division with a 35-17 record and both men were named NBA all-stars and will represent the Eastern Conference this Sunday in front of the hometown fans in Toronto.
"I’ve let people into my life. People have actually started to see who I am. To be voted into the all-star game this year means a lot. A few years ago, I think people thought of me more as a pain in the ass than a guy who deserved this kind of honour. Now, it feels like they appreciate what I do. And to do it in Toronto, for our fans, in our arena? It shows that the Raptors are on the map, and the city we play for is getting some respect…I’m an all-star, and my team is making a strong playoff run. We may not win every game, but we trust in each other and believe if we go about our jobs the right way, great things will happen."