Kyle Lowry expressed gratitude for being named the NBA’s Eastern Conference player of the month. His teammates and Raptors coach Dwane Casey, on the other hand, say the recognition doesn’t go nearly far enough.
“It’s rewarding. It’s a good award to get. We had a good team month. I’m humbled by it. It’s cool to get it,” said Lowry, after the Raptors hit their home practice gym Tuesday for the first time since returning from a gruelling Western road trip.
Monday evening, Lowry was named the East’s top player for the month of December, after carrying the load for the Raptors during the absence of shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who’s been out since mid-November with a groin injury. (DeRozan’s expected back Thursday.) In December, Lowry averaged 22.3 points, 8.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 15 games as the Raptors went 11-4.
That kind of performance should help land the Raptors’ star point guard a lot more than a weekly or monthly award, says forward Patrick Patterson.
“He’ll get his ‘player of the weeks’ and his ‘player of the months.’ He should be at the all-star game,” said Patterson. Last season, Lowry was passed over by fans in voting for all-star starters, and was also left out of the bench spots chosen by coaches.
This time around, to his teammates’ dismay, Lowry again seems to be in danger of getting snubbed by fans. He’s fourth among Eastern Conference guards in fan voting. (The top two guards and top three frontcourt players in each conference are chosen as starters by fans; the remaining roster spots are picked by coaches).
While Lowry isn’t likely to admit he’s bothered by it, Patterson says there’s no doubt an all-star spot matters to the fiercely-competitive Lowry.
“Every guy wishes that they could be an all-star. So in my opinion, yeah, I feel like it does matter to him,” said Patterson.
It also, apparently, matters to Casey — a lot. Casey says he was “very surprised” when he saw Lowry in fourth spot.
“I hope our fans get out and vote and don’t put it in the hands of the coaches. And if the coaches don’t do it, I’m probably going to get into a physical fight with those guys,” said Casey, with only the slightest of smiles on his face.
Casey admitted he’s sometimes baffled by the fan voting, and pointed to Lowry and Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler as prime examples of odd decision-making. (Butler’s in fifth spot among Eastern Conference guards).
“It’s for the fans, but sometimes fans have their favourites and it has nothing to do with basketball,” said Casey. “I would challenge anyone to say that Kyle or Jimmy Butler are not two of the best players in the league right now. That’s sometimes where fantasy basketball, fans or whatever it is may not recognize the contributions these guys are making to their teams or this league.”
The potential snub, says Casey, could prove to be a powerful motivator for Lowry.
“The only thing we can do, Kyle can do, is go out and continue to compete and play with that chip on his shoulder to show the league, to embarrass the fans and let them know that they made a mistake or are making a mistake in their voting,” said Casey.
Later Tuesday night, Prime Minister Stephen Harper took up Lowry’s cause.
“Canadian basketball fans should get behind @Klow7, who deserves to be an NBA All Star. #NBABallot #wethenorth”
Lowry responded: “wow thank you”