Kyle Lowry and Masai Ujiri have had a turbulent personal relationship throughout more or less the entirety of Ujiri’s five years in Toronto. Ujiri himself is the first to admit that the two are not always on the best of terms, saying in an interview on ESPN’s The Jump, “Kyle is always mad at me”.
Masai has done many things over the years to incur the wrath of his All-Star point guard, (take his attempt to trade Lowry in 2013 for example) but the worst offense in Lowry’s eyes came this summer when Ujiri traded away his long-time best friend and team-mate, DeMar DeRozan. The trade, that also involved Jakob Poeltl and brought in Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, was applauded by many at the time. Now more than four months after the trade, both Leonard and Green have been performing at a high level on both ends of the court and, most importantly, the team is winning games.
Quite honestly, the trade had to be made at some point because, as Masai has pointed out on multiple occasions in defense of the trade, doing something over and over and getting the same result is the definition of insanity. In this case, the Raptors trying to get into the playoffs year-after-year with the same coach and the same core group of guys, and never making it past the Eastern Conference Finals, was, quite literally, insane.
With Kawhi’s name constantly being in the MVP conversation and Danny Green defending well and knocking down deep shots at a consistent rate, the team has picked up a couple of key contributors to the team’s 21-5 start. Outside of their on-court performances, both guys provide a steady veteran presence and playoff experience that the Raptors teams of past years have been severely lacking. In other words, the trade was a good move by the Raptors’ team president.
Kyle Lowry doesn’t quite see it that way. Although he avoided the question posed to him by ESPN’s Rachel Nichols about his relationship with Ujiri, his relative silence on the matter spoke volumes to how he feels about the trade and Ujiri’s part in the trade.
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After all, DeMar was like a brother to Kyle, and the trade was quite shocking in its suddenness; DeMar had been with the Raptors since being drafted in 2009, and it felt to many as though he was traded and gone in the blink of an eye.
The interviews done by ESPN of Lowry and Ujiri were not what exposed the relationship as being less than perfect. No, that was social media. The recent interviews merely confirmed that there are issues there, which is not ideal in an executive-star player relationship. However, Lowry made it clear that although the two have a problem on a personal level, both would continue to do their jobs and do what they can to win games for the Raptors, saying: “He does his job, I do my job.”
The biggest thing to take away from all of this is that regardless of whatever issues Masai and Kyle may have when it comes to playing basketball and competing and winning games, all of that is thrown out the window. So, to anyone who was worried by Kyle’s comments on his relationship with Masai, or Masai’s comments on his relationship with Kyle, don’t be — so long as both of those guys remain professional and keep working hard to win basketball games, there is no mending of fences that need to be done.
Take the Golden State Warriors’ star players Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, for example, the pair reported to have never liked one another, and yet they have won two championships in two years as team-mates.
Kyle Lowry and Masai Ujiri do not need to be friends. They need to win basketball games.