TORONTO — Masai Ujiri told a Kyle Lowry story recently that I hadn’t heard before.
The Toronto Raptors president was on a panel at a conference in Boston, alongside the general managers of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, and the subject turned to leadership.
Ujiri recalled a night a couple seasons ago, when the Raptors were newly ascendant. The night Lowry passed to Landry Fields.
I asked Ujiri about it again this week. Fields, you may recall, was the free-agent guard who came to Toronto and couldn’t shoot. He literally could not: a nerve issue in his right arm plagued him for years. He would play a few minutes a night and make the odd layup, but that was about it.
“It was a really tough time he went through,” Ujiri says. “But he remained an unbelievable teammate. All this time, he’s still staying positive with the team.”
For one reason or another, there came a night at the Air Canada Centre where Fields had to draw in for extra work. The Raptors were trailing the Orlando Magic by eight points in the third quarter, and they started a run that closed the gap. The building was rocking, “and Kyle does this unbelievable crossover, and the crowd was going nuts,” Ujiri recalls.
And then Lowry dished to the open man. Landry Fields, the guy who never shot. “You could almost tell, everybody thought he was going to miss,” Ujiri says.
Fields hit the shot, from 23 feet. The arena exploded, and Lowry was happier than anyone. “You could see Kyle’s emotion,” Ujiri says. He had watched his teammate suffer, and work, and not complain, and finally, just for a brief instance, he had been the hero. Lowry was ecstatic. The shot opened…
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