Kyle Lowry struggled to comprehend what he had achieved with the Toronto Raptors after taking the long road to an NBA title.
Lowry scored 26 points and provided 10 assists as the Raptors secured a 114-110 victory in Game 6 on Thursday to dethrone the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.
The 4-2 series success secured Toronto a maiden championship in the franchise’s history, while it was also the first ring for Lowry, who arrived from the Houston Rockets in a trade in 2012, in his 13-year NBA career.
“Words can’t explain how I feel. It’s been a long, long time,” he told the media. “Thirteen years of NBA basketball. A couple [of] years of college. A couple [of] years of high school basketball. And to be able to say I’m a world champion, it makes me feel great.
“To do it with the group of guys that we did it with is amazing like it’s just kind of still surreal. Kind of, it hasn’t hit me yet.
“I’m still kind of in this moment of just like, ‘Is this real yet?’ And for me just at the end of the day, I work extremely hard on my game, I work extremely hard on myself, and I am extremely hard on myself.
“And I’m happy to be able to say I’m a champion – it’s been a long time coming.”
— NBA (@NBA) June 14, 2019
Lowry was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round back in 2006, spending three years there and in Houston before joining the Raptors.
The 33-year-old has thrived in Toronto, making the Eastern Conference NBA All-Star roster for five successive seasons. He also won a gold medal as part of the United States’ squad at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Asked in his postgame press conference if he ever wondered about “keeping the battle going”, he replied: “No. I always wanted to keep working, I love this game, I love this job, I love my life.
“I just continue to grow, just continue to get better as a man, as a basketball player, as an individual.”
Lowry struck up a close friendship with DeMar DeRozan during their time together in Canada before the latter was dealt with the San Antonio Spurs as part of the deal to acquire Kawhi Leonard last year.
While the trade was disappointing from a personal point of view, Lowry understood the decision taken by Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri and quickly buckled down to make it work with his new teammate.
“When he made the trade as a friend of mine, my emotions were there, but I understood that I had to go to work, and I still played for the Toronto Raptors,” Lowry said. “So I knew that that’s my job, my job was to go out there and to be the best basketball player I could be.”