If an informal poll was taken asking Toronto Raptors fans (the true hardcore, Day 1 supporters) who their favorite all-time Raptor was, I’ve long-believed that Alvin Williams’ name would come out at or near the top. Not Vince Carter or Chris Bosh or even Tracy McGrady.
Williams played with a quiet confidence that wasn’t arrogance. It was attitude and seriousness; focus and swagger. He didn’t quit on plays and he worked for every second that he was on the floor. It was that never-give-up approach and that ultimate taste for success that endeared him to the fan base.
Kyle Lowry possesses those same qualities. He’s more vocal about his confidence and with due respect to Williams, Lowry is probably a better player overall. But that same edge is evident and it’s hard not to conjure up the comparisons.
“I’ve known Alvin for a long time now and he has really helped me in my career,” Lowry said. “He played hard, he understood the game, and he just wanted to win.”
The connections for Lowry and Williams run deep. Both men are Philadelphia-born and Villanova-raised. And now they’re linked in Toronto with one in a scouting role and the other in a quest to take the reins of the team.
“Alvin didn’t care about anything but winning, said Lowry. “That’s what I want to do; I just want to help the team win and do what I have to do to make our team the best team that it can possibly be.”
After trying to land Steve Nash in free agency, the Raptors quickly set their sights on Lowry — a guard that had been linked to Toronto in the rumor mill for quite some time as well. General manager Bryan Colangelo was able to swing a deal with the Houston Rockets and land the kind of player that may be a perfect fit for the style of play Dwane Casey is trying to teach.
“Coach is really harping on playing both sides of the ball,” Lowry said. “That’s my thing right now … on defense, being the head of the snake and on offence, being the head of the snake; just leading everybody and putting guys in the right position to make plays.”
Though nothing has been determined yet, Lowry is expected to supplant Jose Calderon as the starting point guard for the Raptors. But no matter how it all unfolds, the Raptors should have one of the best 1-2 punches at the point in the entire league. And Lowry knows that.
“Whatever happens is going to happen,” he said. “It’s going to be two professional guys going at it and trying to help the team win. At the end of the day, I’m going to help him, he’s going to help me (and) we’re going to help the team. That’s what it’s about. It’s a team sport.”
That team-first mantra sounds a lot like what Williams used to epitomize back in his heyday as well.