Rule No. 9, section 1, article F of the NBA rulebook: Thou shall not disconcert a free throw shooter while he shoots.
It's basketball etiquette 101. Unless you're in the stands where anything is fair game, you're not supposed to distract a free throw shooter. That means standing quietly, distraction-free as an opposing player lines up at the charity stripe. That is unless you're a do-what-ever-it-takes competitor with a ruthless will to win who is willing to throw etiquette out the window in support of the greater good.
Essentially, if you're some like Kyle Lowry.
The 35-year-old Toronto Raptors legend isn't going to blow anyone away with his speed or overpower anyone with his size. Rather, what he will do is outsmart his competition, toe the line between legal and illegal, and create any minute advantage to help his team win.
"He also understands the intricacies of the rules," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Lowry back in March. "I think Kyle, he just understands all facets of the game. He watches, like, a bunch of games every night when we're not playing. He's into players and league and everything. So I think all that just kinda builds his knowledge base."
He knows, for example, that referees aren't going to punish him for his free-throw antics. As long as he doesn't go over the top, he's totally fine to flail his arms, yell to teammates, and frustrate free-throw shooters without any repercussion.
Watch as the always sturdy Lowry suddenly loses his balance time after time just as opponents lineup to take free throws.
Other times he'll coach his teammates during free-throw attempts, pipping up the moment the shooter gets into his stroke.
Occasionally he'll prompt the shooter to look over in confusion as he rants on about something with a teammate or the referee.
These moments aren't isolated to when Lowry's on the court, the savvy veteran doesn't spare shooters from his antics when he's on the sideline. Instead, he gets creative using whatever is around him to throw off opposing shooters.
That's what separates the best players in the world from those who are merely very good. Lowry gets it. He knows how to bend the rules to maximize team success. In that sense, he's among an elite group in the NBA along with the Chris Pauls of the world, James Hardens, and LeBron James who know the rules and how to make the most of them. There's no shame in overdramatizing some contact for a call or stepping in front of an unwitting defender to draw a foul if that's what it's going to take to win games.
Lowry always understood that. It's why the Raptors' most successful stretch as an organization came with Lowry at the helm. He helped mold what at times was a dysfunctional franchise into one of the league's premier organizations with his unrelenting drive for success.
When people say Lowry's impact didn't show up in the score sheet this is what they're talking about. It's the charges, the hockey assists, the playmaking for teammates, the leadership, and somewhere on that list, it's the antics that made him the greatest Raptor of all time.