The Raptors’ acquisition of Kawhi Leonard—and the corresponding departure of DeMar DeRozan—marks the end of an era in Toronto. Over his nine years with the Raptors, DeRozan helped build a consistent winner in the East, put together a string of playoff appearances and transformed himself into one of the most dangerous scorers in the NBA. He also developed a strong friendship with his backcourt partner, Kyle Lowry, as the duo was one of the most talented and endearing partnerships in the league.
With the affable pair now split up, we must now say goodbye to the near-daily jests and hijinks that came out of Toronto. In honor of Lowry and DeRozan’s bromance, here’s a look at six of the best moments the two shared as Raptors.
Part of what made for such effective comedy between these two was their dichotomous personalities. Lowry exudes fierceness on the court and liveliness off it, while DeRozan remains stoic at all times. Nearly every funny bit is some attempt by Lowry to make his teammates break character. In this instance, that involves relentlessly leaning into his goofy side until DeRozan cracks:
It’s impossible for anyone, DeRozan included, not to break into a grin watching that.
“I’m trying to be professional”
So much of this duo’s back-and-forth started with Lowry playfully prodding a serious DeRozan to get a rise out of both his teammate and any nearby media. Here, DeRozan expects it, and when he finds Lowry merely sitting still and listening along. Once he knows he’s in DeRozan’s head, Lowry begins his tricks:
It’s unclear how upset DeRozan really is. His scolding of Lowry is completely deadpan, without a trace of laughter or a smile. Then, like a student to an oblivious substitute teacher, Lowry sarcastically imitates DeRozan when he turns his back.
Again, we find DeRozan in media mode, speaking straightforwardly about the 2016 Global Games in London. But when he slips up, Lowry is ready to pounce. DeRozan attempts to brush it off, but Lowry has him, and isn’t ready to let him off the hook.
DeRozan clarifies his comment, but Lowry gets the last laugh.
Lowry finishes interview through contact
This time, it’s DeRozan messing with Lowry, ambushing him during a postgame interview and smothering him with a towel. Lowry takes it in stride, barely hesitating while giving his answer, and finishes the interview.
“I’m like Neo now”
This postgame press conference gave us two of the most memorable moments between Toronto’s All Stars in recent memory. Lowry, especially jolly after a playoff win over Washington, first objects to DeRozan’s claim that he wasn’t trying to put together a huge scoring night after going for 37 points.
“You can’t say that when you had 37,” Lowry says before offering a slow eye roll.
Later, when asked about his improvement as a playmaker and ability to read the floor, DeRozan quips that he’s “like Neo now,” eliciting a hearty cackle from Lowry. After a few seconds, DeRozan himself can’t keep from cracking up.
FaceTime & family
This friendship runs deeper than what appears on camera or happens in media scrums. Lowry and DeRozan genuinely love each other, and their bond both on and off the court was special. Their families are close, their kids hang out together, and the two All Stars talk at all hours of the day and night. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, both players discussed what their friendship means and how it has affected their lives.
“We are on FaceTime together a lot late at night,” Lowry said. “If I have something to say, I hit him up right away. On the road, I hang out in his room; he hangs out in my room. We have genuine conversations about life. Yes, we sometimes talk about basketball, but we are grown men and mostly we talk about our families, our kids, everyday life. He's in my favorites list, so when he calls me, it rings through no matter what.”
“He’s the very definition of a friend,” DeRozan said. “He has very serious moments, joking moments, and bad mood moments. I don’t look at him as Kyle Lowry the basketball player; I look at the guy I hang out with outside basketball. That’s my man.”
It’s rare for NBA players to speak of one another this way. Often, playing 82 games with another person is plenty of teammate interaction for the year. On-court chemistry doesn’t always translate to close connections away from basketball. Lowry and DeRozan are the exception. All-Star breaks, holidays, and head-to-head matchups will serve as brief reunions, but it will undoubtedly be a difficult adjustment for both players.
“I’d call DeMar a best friend. A genuine, awesome, great guy,” Lowry said. “It’s beyond friendship, if there’s a word for that. Family, that’s the only other word for DeMar.”