Kyle Lowry has no idea I have a history of jinxing players. So bad that one time in the middle of an interview with Jerry Stackhouse, Kevin Garnett interrupted and told Stack he needs to get the "hell" away from me before I ruin his career. I did the story on Stack. His career was never the same after.
A few hours before the NBA announced this year's All-Star starters, Lowry called my phone. Interview previously set. He is having a season on par with any top guard in the East at this point. Name's being mentioned in that "best point god" conversation. People saying, "Derrick Rose might have a problem if the Bulls play Toronto in the playoffs." Words no one saw coming.
And even though the power of Drake and Justin Bieber in Toronto is real, Lowry knows nothing of the power of my jinx. So, we talked.
Scoop: You ready for the All-Star Game?
Lowry: Man, you know I ...
Scoop: I'm not trying to jinx you or anything ...
Lowry: Let's just put it this way: I'm just ready for that time again. I know it's a break at some point. [Laughs] It's either going to be less of a grind if I make [it] because I'll be able to hang out, get those experiences, be around all of the stars, and if not, I'm ready for that break to get to go hang out on a beach, enjoy some good weather and get more of a tan.
Scoop: Yeah that's a nice politically correct answer, brah. Look, if I don't see you in New York, there's a problem.
Lowry: I've heard that a few times, man. [Laughs] Hopefully we won't have that problem so that we don't have to start anything.
Scoop: [Laughs] Seriously, how does it feel to hear people saying that to you now? You know, hear those things about you being in the All-Star Game?
Lowry: You know what, it's a testament to all of the hard work I feel I put in throughout my career. Just to know people kinda noticing you for what you do is always good. You know I don't do this for the recognition, I do it for the love of the game. It is always good to have recognition, just like what you do: When a reporter does a great article, he might not do it for the recognition; they do it because that's their passion, but when they do get recognized for it, it's always amazing, always an amazing feeling. And you can say, "OK, it's cool that people recognize that I'm putting in this work and I'm doing the right things, and I'm saying the right things because I care about it so I want people to pay attention to it." So for me, to be able to put the work in that I put in and for people to recognize me, it's always good to get that love back sometimes.
To be able to put the work in that I put in and for people to recognize me, it's always good to get that love back sometimes.
"-- Kyle Lowry
Scoop: So if last year was your "welcome to the world" party, what has this year been?
Lowry: My "I'm here to stay" party. [Laughs]
Scoop: Is that part of the relief of finally getting a [big] contract or is that a "Let me step up so that people don't think last year was a fluke?"
Lowry: Well, I had a nice contract before, I made good money before [Note: Lowry's new contract doubled the money he was making annually on his previous contract], so it's not about a contract, it's about, "These guys paid me to do a job and they paid me to do a job well," so I'ma get paid to do my job and I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. I'm going to train hard, work hard, I'm going to make sure I put my team in a position to know that we are going to be able to win games. You know, if you get paid to do a job you should do it, no matter if ... of course, things happen, injuries happen, you might miss a game or two and you are just unable to [play], but if you can, you should just go out there and do your job that you are getting paid to do. And for me, it's about that. I get paid to do a job that I love to do, so I'm going to go out there and give it my all every night.
Scoop: You are nine years deep in the league, right?
Lowry: Nine years.
Scoop: How important, from your standpoint of being in it this long, is stability in connection to success in this League?
Lowry: I think it is important. If you can establish a continuity in a team, example, the San Antonio Spurs. Look at them. They've won championships and they've had stability, the same people in place. Popovich has been there 20 years. It's hard to do and it's hard to get a Tim Duncan, a Tony Parker and a Manu Ginobili, but you get the continuity that they have and you get that one person in charge for that long, it shows what can possibly happen. And that's really important to have in this League.
Scoop: Does that apply to individual situations as much as with teams?
Lowry: Yeah, I think so. I think if you begin to get a little bit of, "Ah man, I'm going to get traded this year?" or "Am I or am I not going to make the team?," it can affect you. Instead of a "Look, I'm going to be here and I'm going to work extremely hard because these people put their trust in me."
Scoop: Has doubt ever set in with you about your ability to play?
Lowry: Um, yeah. Hell, yeah. A few times, well not a few times, but one time, seriously, doubt has come into play. I mean, you work extremely hard and things just aren't going your way. I think every player hits a little bit of doubt. But if you are strong, you are supposed to be strong mentally because that's our job and you know what you can do. So you are like, "A'ight cool, I'ma be all right. I'm going to figure this out." You have to dig down deep inside and find that fire, find a reason to know and remind yourself that this is what you do. And then it just becomes a small setback, a small hurdle to get over.
Scoop: Do you think about what you have to face every night now that we are in the "golden age of the point god"? Do you think about your place in this so-called era? Say to yourself at any time, "Before I leave this game, when they talk about this being the era of the point guard, I want my name to be mentioned." Do you at all think about or like that?
Lowry: Naw. Not at all. Because there are so many great point guards, someone is always going to get left out of that conversation. Like right now, CP3 [Chris Paul] isn't getting the praise that he usually gets because Steph [Curry] is having an unbelievable year. Tony [Parker] is not getting the praise that he usually gets because Russ [Westbrook] is having an ... See, someone is going to get left out. And my thing is, as long as you work as hard as you can and you are extremely happy with your game and how you are playing, you can't worry about anyone else or where your place is.
Scoop: Speaking of Tony Parker ... you mentioned earlier Tony, Tim and Manu. Now I'm looking at the three you all have in Toronto and I'm not going to put words in your mouth or misquote you, but can it be said that you all may not be the best Big 3 in the NBA right now, but you might be the most dangerous?
Lowry: Yeah ... I ... don't ... know ... I'll say we have talent. We are a talented group. We have some hellafied talent. I think with [Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan] still being young, they haven't even reached their primes yet. And with me being in my prime and them getting better, I figure sky's the limit for us.
Scoop: Yeah, another politically perfect answer. You're good. Really, that's how I feel it's going to happen when playoff time comes around. No disrespect to Cleveland or Atlanta or Washington or Chicago, but you all, because of the three of you, might be that team that's going to cause the biggest matchup problems for other teams to deal with.
Lowry: Well, right now we aren't winning games that we should, but that's a part of the season, that's just the way it goes, but you've seen what we can do when we are in our stride. So once we hit our stride again, we'll be that team that people look at and say, "OK, we have [the Raptors] coming in and it's going to be a rough one."
Scoop: On that same note, what are you going to take into this year's playoffs that you all learned from last year's playoffs?
Lowry: Probably physicality. The mental part of it. Being able to fight through the mental part of every game and making those adjustments after every one. I think that's what I'm going to take with me into the playoffs this time.
Scoop: And when it's all said and done, once you've done the Tony Parker and have a ring or two on your fingers and a Finals MVP, what do you want people to say about Kyle Lowry?
Lowry: I just want them to be able to say that I was a professional and that I was a winner.
Scoop: Nuff said. I'll see you in NY. For real. No jinx.
Lowry: [Laughs] I hope so.
An hour after we got off the phone, Lowry was announced as the a starting guard for the East in the All-Star Game.