Lowry was unhappy with the Raptors. And he and DeRozan just didn’t hit it off.
But an unlikely friendship eventually developed, and when team president Masai Ujiri unceremoniously jettisoned DeRozan to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard last summer, virtually no-one outside of DeRozan himself was more hurt by the move than Lowry.
DeRozan made his much-anticipated return to Toronto on Friday with his San Antonio Spurs. When asked why their relationship took a turn for the better, Lowry couldn’t pinpoint exactly why.
"I don’t know, don’t know. Couldn’t tell you, that’s why it’s genuine," Lowry said.
"I don’t really like him. That’s probably why," he added with a laugh. "When you meet certain people in this world and you’re brought together by basketball, you don’t have a certain reason on why this or that. It just happens. It is what it is. You can talk about anything, you can watch TV, you can not talk and still be on the same page. You got family, you got kids, all types of things that all go into that. It just brings together a bond."
Shortly after DeRozan touched down in Toronto on Thursday night, the two former teammates went for dinner.
"He paid," Lowry chuckled. "His American dollar is really strong right now so he took advantage of it."
DeRozan was the proverbial good cop to Lowry’s bad. They complemented each other on the court, and together built the Raptors into a perennial Eastern Conference contender.
"He became a heck of a basketball player, and I was the guy that just kept pushing him to get better and get better and try to push himself to the limit," Lowry said.
Some day the two will reflect on what they accomplished in Toronto.
"Right now is just about living in the moment," Lowry said. "I want to play my game and appreciate the game that I’m playing right now. When I’m done and retired and hanging out I will look back at all the accomplishments, the types of things we did for the franchise, the turnaround, whatever it is. I’ll look back at that time and say ‘Oh wow, that’s pretty cool.’
"One day we’ll retire, we’ll be hanging out on the porch, drinking lemonade together one day. That’s what you cherish about the friendship."
Lowry looked forward to Friday night’s game and the hero’s welcome DeRozan, one of the most popular players in Raptors history, would no doubt receive.
"Over/under, two-and-half on the standing ovation, I’m going to take the over," Lowry said. "I think it’s well deserved, what he’s done for this city, the fans appreciate it, it should be celebrated. But for us, internally as our team, we gotta go out and win the game."
Once fondly known as "Mr. I am Toronto," DeRozan saw himself as a lifelong Raptor. And that was music to the collective ears of Raptors fans who’d watched beloved players such as Vince Carter walk out the door.
Why did DeRozan connect so well with Raptors fans?
"He was here since he was a kid, he committed to the city long-term, he embraced it as home," Lowry said. "He did a lot for the community. When you’re here for a certain amount of time, it’s kind of given that this is kind of a second home and I think that’s what the city appreciated in him."
Friday was DeRozan’s lone regular-season visit to Toronto. He had an outstanding night against Toronto last month, recording his first career triple double: 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. The Spurs clobbered the Raptors 125-107 ending Toronto’s three-game win streak. Lowry sat out that game with his nagging back injury.