Has your bracket busted already?
No, not that one. The bracket where there are no losers! We continue celebrating the best of Kyle Lowry as we move on to the Sweet 16 moments, games, plays, and quotes from the GROAT’s illustrious Raptors career.
For this round, Sully and I picked our winners for each of the eight matchups. Where
Sully was wrong we disagreed, we turned to you, on Twitter. If you missed out on the polls, shame on you. If you did vote and swayed it in Sully’s direction, shame on me!
Moving forward, Sully and I (and you, the fans!) will be having a dialogue approach with regards to which KLOE moment is best in each seeding round.
You’ve most likely got the gist of our bracket so let’s show you who the winners of Round 32 before we get to our and your Sweet Sixteen picks!
KLOE REGION (Best Moments)
(1) Lifting the Larry O’B vs. (4) Players’ Tribune “Home”
(SA): These two moments going against each other is fitting in a way. In Lowry’s “Home” Players’ Tribune piece, Kyle’s last line is what gets Raptor fans coming back to read it again: “And if you start something? Man, you finish it.” That’s exactly what Kyle did after the Raptors get swept in the second round of the 2017 playoffs by the Cavaliers. He stuck it out with the Raptors and that eventually led to him lifting the Larry O’B. Everything paid off at that moment for Lowry and his squad, and it will forever be replayed in our memories.
(JR): You’re absolutely right about Lowry and his drive to finish what he started. When that Players’ Tribune article was posted and Lowry announced his re-signing with the Raptors, it was met with pure elation from the fan base and represented a sign of hope. That hope was realized with Kyle was the first Raptor to hoist the Larry O’B. It’s poetic that these two moments met, and justified in having Lowry’s crowning achievement as the matchup winner.
Winner: (1) Lifting The Larry O’B
(2) 2019 ECF Game 6 Post-game Reception vs. (3) Pre-game Intros
(SA): “Lowry-Lowry-Lowry!” I can still hear the fans echoing that chant. It was such a perfect moment for all involved — Kyle and Raptor fans will always have that moment they’ll remember forever. What gets me the most is right before the buzzer sounded, the broadcast captured Kyle smiling and clutching his fists to his face, overcome by joy at the fact that he was heading to the NBA Finals for the first time in his career. It was such a great moment! While I do love the pregame intros, and will remember them fondly long after Kyle eventually retires, I’ll never forget that Game 6 reception.
(JR): Shivers. That moment before the buzzer sends shivers down my spine every time I see it. Don’t get me wrong. The intros get me hyped. Nothing puts me into game mode like a Kyle Lowry pre-game intro (heck, we named one of the regions after Mark Strong’s famous pre-game line!). But this one has to go to Lowry, when he realizes, on his home court, in front of 20,000+ screaming fans, with millions of Canadians celebrating, that he’s going to the freaking NBA Finals!
Winner: (2) 2019 ECF Game 6 Post-game Reception
DON’T POKE THE BEAR REGION (Best Games)
(1) 2019 NBA Finals Game 6 vs. (5) The Comeback
(JR): Imagine having the ball in your hand for a championship-winning, buzzer-beater — as Lowry did in Game 5 — only to have it… blocked? He could’ve hung his head and let the missed opportunity consume him, but Kyle has built a career out of overcoming adversity. In Game 6, he came out shooting like he was making up for lost time. He sent the raucous Oracle Arena a clear message: we’re not here to visit, we’re here to claim our title! As amazing as a historic 30-point comeback is, Lowry’s performance in the championship clincher will live on in Raptors lore (and should for at least another round in this bracket).
(SA): You hit the nail on the head, Jay. As awful as it was for Kyle’s game-winning shot to be blocked in Game 5, we know that he isn’t the type to let his head down and take the punches. As you said, Lowry has built a career in overcoming adversity, and boy did he ever respond well to it in his Game 6 Finals performance. Literally every Raptor fan had to have been clenching their butt cheeks just before tip-off — but Kyle, being the Point God that he, immediately calmed everyone down with 11 straight points to open the game and a perfect showcase on both ends to help the Raps win their first-ever title. While the 30-point comeback against the Mavericks was a great feat, Kyle’s Game 6 performance must have a special place in every Raptor fans’ heart.
Winner: (1) 2019 NBA Finals Game 6
(JR): Both of these games had the Raptors facing elimination in the East Semis. Both of these seasons would’ve ended if Lowry gave anything less than an epic performance. Hmmm, actually, maybe not. The Game 7 against Miami had the added carrot-on-a-string dangling in front of Toronto: their first trip to the Conference Finals. Flashbacks of Vince Carter’s failed Game 7 buzzer-beater in Philadelphia were peppered in every other highlight package. NBA fans were salivating at a possible Dwyane Wade vs. LeBron James playoff series. Kyle Lowry silenced everyone and took the Raptors to heights they’d never achieved yet.
(SA): If there is one thing for certain, it’s that Kyle was on a mission for both games (and every game, for that matter). Game 6 against the Celtics was a masterclass performance by Kyle, going for 33 points, eight rebounds, and six assists — along with clutch shot after clutch shot, including the dagger to force Game 7. Still, while it’s hard for me to go against this, I have to pick Kyle’s 2016 ECSF Game 7 vs. Heat performance. Like Jay said, Kyle took away the opportunity NBA fans were hoping for in a Dwyane Wade vs. LeBron James playoff series, going off for 35 points and nine assists to punch the Raptors’ ticket to their first-ever Eastern Conference Finals appearance. One thing to note: that Heat series was one of the ugliest series I have seen but it was Lowry who made it memorable with his stellar 2016 playoff run, especially that Game 7 win against the Heat. That’s why I had to go with this game to advance!
Winner: (3) 2016 ECSF Game 7 vs. Heat
Here is a quick look at how the “KLOE Region” and the “Don’t Poke The Bear Region” of the bracket is looking after the Sweet 16 results:
KYLE L-L-L-L-LOWRY REGION (Best Plays)
(JR): Sully, honest question: if you’re building a Kyle Lowry statue outside of Scotiabank Arena, what would it look like? The four remaining plays in this region typify everything that Lowry brings to the table, game in and game out. For me, nothing says Kyle m’f***ing Lowry like our Point God “taking one for the team.” In this case, the team was a collection of the best players on the planet, playing like they were competing for a spot against the Monstars. Come on, Twitter folks, let’s send All-Star Kyle to the quarterfinals!
(SA): Look, I’d love a Kyle Lowry statue as much as the next Raptor fan, and I do agree it should be some iteration of him taking a charge, but if we’re keeping the convo between which moment should win: I am going with Kyle icing Game 1 of the NBA Finals! Sure, it was fun to see Kyle playing amongst the best and still sacrificing his body for a meaningless All-Star contest, but we’re talking about Kyle pulling up from 30-feet in the NBA Finals, hitting it, and sending a message to the Warriors that the Raptors are not to mess with! I think I’ve made a solid case for the Twitter folks to side with me, Jay.
Winner: Since we came to a tiebreaker, we took to Twitter Polls to let you — the fans — decide! 56 percent of fans selected (8) Icing Game 1 of the NBA Finals to advance to the Sweet 16.
Which Lowry moment deserves to advance to the next round of the KLOE Madness Tournament? Heads up — and vote below!
Lowry taking charges in the All-Star Game vs.
Lowry icing Game 1 of the NBA Finals with a 3
— Raptors HQ (@RaptorsHQ) March 18, 2021
(2) His Greatest Steal vs. (3) The Longest Pass
(JR): I find it funny and ironic that neither of these plays include Lowry putting the ball in the hoop, but, in true Kyle fashion, would not have happened without his brilliance. In choosing a winner, I asked myself, which play would I still remember when I’m old and senile (which isn’t as far away as you’d guess). The answer kept coming back to OG Anunoby’s buzzer-beater… and the impossible pass that made The Shot possible.
(SA): That’s right, Jay! While neither of these moments feature Kyle making a basket, they instead showcase some of the intangibles he brings to the game. In that spirt, I’ve got to go with Kyle’s steal on Khris Middleton and pass to Kawhi for the dunk on Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 6 of the ECF. It was just an exhilarating play, Kyle jumped into Middleton’s driving lane, stole it, ran the fast break, stopped in the paint, turned around and fed Kawhi for the dunk, encapsulating a 26-3 run. The crowd erupted, I erupted, and everything in that moment felt unreal. Anyway, it almost feels wrong to pick a winner here as both moments should advance, but that is the cruel nature of the bracket game.
Winner: Since we came to a tiebreaker, we took to Twitter Polls to let you — the fans — decide! 51 percent of fans selected (2) His Greatest Steal to advance to the Sweet 16.
Second poll: which Lowry moment will advance in the KLOE tourney?
Lowry’s steal on Middleton and pass to Kawhi in Game 6 of the 2019 ECF vs.
Lowry’s pass over Tacko to OG for the Game 3 winner vs. Boston
— Raptors HQ (@RaptorsHQ) March 18, 2021
WHEN KYLE SPEAKS, YOU LISTEN REGION (Best Quotes)
(SA): I had to go with Kyle poking fun at the media with his “don’t ask me no dumbass questions” line. It’s what defines Kyle, his straight to the point, no-nonsense persona. After all, the region is literally named “when Kyle speaks, you listen” and in that clip, even before Kyle took on questions, the media wasn’t listening and instead kept fishing to get a line out of Lowry. We all know he never quite falls for that kind of bait. Imagine letting Kyle down by going against his words — couldn’t be me!
(JR): Oh, I’m going against his words! And I’m going to war with his best friend, DeMar DeRozan, for help. When you think of Kyle Lowry, how can you not picture DeMar beside him? They’ve had their fair share of alley-oops, off-court shenanigans, and meme-worthy moments. It only makes sense that they defy the odds, spit on our subjective ranking system, and take down the higher (lower?) seed together!
Winner: Since we came to a tiebreaker, we took to Twitter Polls to let you — the fans — decide! 62 percent of fans selected (4) “USC (Math), Baby”
And number three, some prime Lowry moments here:
Lowry demanding to not be asked “no dumbass questions” vs.
Lowry going out of his way to correct DeMar’s math
VOTE VOTE VOTE
— Raptors HQ (@RaptorsHQ) March 18, 2021
(2) “We Brought It Home, Baby” vs. (6) Kyle The Reporter
(SA): When I think of the Raptors winning it all, I think about how Kyle came here in Toronto back in 2012, and never let up on his one goal: to win a championship. He worked his tail off, put the team first on the court, and did whatever he could to get his team to the promised land. All that belief and effort showed when Lowry was being interviewed by Doris Burke and presented with the Larry O’B. Lowry made sure to include the entire country of Canada when he said “we brought it home, baby!” It just goes to show how selfless Kyle really is.
(JR): Who wants selfless Kyle when you can have selfish Kyle? The man wouldn’t even let Fred VanVleet have a proper post-championship press conference? He had to go steal the show with his… contagious smile, playful attitude, and fun questions! Hmmm, okay, let’s try a different angle. If this were an actual game being played, the 2-seed would be an overwhelming favourite. “Kyle the Reporter” would battle valiantly, out-perform expectations, but ultimately run out of answers (or questions, in Kyle’s case). “We brought it home, baby” should bring home another victory!
Winner: (2) “We Brought it Home, Baby”
Here is a quick look at how the “Kyle L-L-L-L-Lowry Region” and “When Kyle Speaks, You Listen Region” of the bracket is looking after the Sweet 16 results:
And now a look at the complete bracket:
Stay tuned on Tuesday to see how the Elite 8 unfolds!