He did what no other Eastern Conference Finals athlete has ever done. He got up and walked away from the court. He went down the tunnel and he said afterwards, when asked for an explanation, he said it was to “decompress”, which means he was being self absorbed and focused on Kyle Lowry when he should have been team absorbed and focused on leadership and the Toronto Raptors.
This is what happens when you play in Canada. You get used to invisibility, that is the norm. You do small things that no one really notices or cares about, you get away with a lot.
Kyle Lowry admitted or defended his right to pull himself together and frankly he needed something, not that it helped any. A notorious backslider in the playoffs over his career, 36%, 28% from three, Lowry has found himself in both strange and familiar waters. Once again he is choking in the playoffs, the moment is too big for him. And yet he is losing focus, overwhelmed by the moment.
There is a huge double standard here because Lowry plays in Toronto and Lowry isn’t a star and before this moment of sheer fragility, Lowry was considered to be gritty or tough or blue collar. He was never seen as a quitter, which is what is being whispered about him now.
Decompress at halftime which is two minutes away. Don’t leave your team out there. What kind of leader does that?
Imagine if this wasn’t Kyle Lowry who did this unbelievable thing. Imagine if it was Dwight Howard. Imagine what would have been said. Imagine the memes. Imagine the hate going Howard’s way about him being soft and a loser and a whining baby. Imagine if this was Blake Griffin, though Griffin wouldn’t dare, not with Chris Paul glaring at him. Imagine what everyone would say about Blake. You can punch an employee but you run for cover the moment you can’t deliver in the biggest series of your career. Imagine if this was John Wall. Imagine what the press corps would think of Wall and how they would crucify him and how his image would be in shreds after it was over.
Lowry took a little of WTF when he walked off. He’s a good player but not a star and because his career has been about treading water and because no one outside of Toronto and Philly, his hometown, gives a damn about Lowry, it’s already in his rear view mirror which he knew it would be. That’s why he did it in the first place. There was going to be no Lowry punishment.
Let’s face it. This series is absurd in every way you want to measure. There is one team that looks ready to hoist the championship trophy and there is another team that is getting embarrassed by the second. You can’t even refer to it as a David vs. Goliath matchup as a reason to tune in. It’s not fun to see the Cavaliers gut the opponent while laughing at their ineptitude and celebrating their own greatness. It doesn’t feel the same as the Warriors when they put on one of their clinics. That makes you feel good when they are superior and dominant and a show. Cavaliers-Ratpors is just plain sad.
Which leads us back to Lowry and his walk away to get his head straight. His head should already be straight. He’s failed enough in the playoffs for this to be the norm. When he abandoned his teammates because he was coming apart at the seams, he was proving a NBA truth. Weakness isn’t a problem in the NBA.Weakness is only a problem when it is a star, a superstar, a once revered talent, a popular player, a generational talent, someone who dominates their position. For everyone else, for the Kyle Lowrys of the world, weakness is tolerated and glossed over and in some quarters, romanticized. There is shame right after and then it’s over.
Like the Raptors, who are over. In a couple of games their misery and ours will be complete. And no one will remember or care that Kyle Lowry walked away from his team.
photo via llananba