In Tuesday night’s showdown against the Milwaukee Bucks, Kyle Lowry had the ball. George Hill was playing tight defense on him. Instead of trying to dribble around Hill, or pass it off, it appeared that Lowry tried to go… under Hill.
This was truly a bizarre move, which had just about everyone watching the game scratching their heads. Even Lowry’s mother was unsure of her son’s exact intentions.
That was interesting— marie hollaway (@blessedmom07) February 26, 2020
As I mentioned above, it appeared that Lowry was trying to go under Hill, but are we sure that was his goal? With such a strange sequence of events, it’s fair to ask if there was more to Lowry’s strategy. Lowry has proved he was smarter than all of us in the past. Perhaps, once again, he was cooking up a new winning strategy, as he so often does.
To solve this issue, I have decided to take a stab at getting inside the mind of Lowry. It is a tenuous proposition to be sure, as Lowry’s intellect combined with his adversarial nature could certainly overwhelm me to the point of danger. I would assume getting in his mind would be like getting caught in a tidal wave. You’d get disoriented, confused, probably hit in the face a few times before you’re inevitably spit out shaken and perplexed by what you just experienced. I’m going to try it anyway.
Here are some possible motives for Kyle Lowry and his human nutmeg. I’ll begin with the most realistic and get more outlandish as we go.
Draw a Foul
This is most likely and on-brand scenario for Lowry. Lowry will often hunt the whistle like he is panning for gold. It is a fraught endeavour, but if he finds success, it can bring good fortune.
Leading up to this point, Lowry was getting increasingly frustrated with the referees. If he has worked the refs well enough in a game, he can occasionally squeeze a suspect call in his favour out of them. Perhaps he thought that he was at this point, and that any contact with Hill would get the Bucks a foul, even if it was initiated by Lowry. Instead, Lowry was whistled for the offensive foul, and continued his animated, ongoing discussion with the officials.
Create Some Space
This is possible as well. Lowry will often get low and lean into his defender, then release that pressure, giving himself a little extra breathing room. He may have just leaned a tad too low, and instead of pushing off on Hill’s thigh or hip, ended up under Hill.
I find this one unlikely, if only because Lowry’s spatial awareness is one of the main reasons that he is a successful NBA player, so a miscalculation as drastic as this simply does not add up.
Legitimately Trying to Go Through Hill’s Legs
As Lowry is halfway through Hill’s legs, he starts to dribble. This could be a move to further embellish the contact in hopes of getting a call. However, it could have instead signalled that Lowry assumed he’d emerge from under Hill’s legs unscathed, and that he would have a clear path to dribble to the rim.
We can’t rule this one out – it has even been done before! As The Athletic’s Blake Murphy pointed out, Nate Robinson pulled this move on journeyman big man and former 905er Edy Tavares in a D-league game.
There are, however, a few key differences that we must address.
Nate Robinson is listed at a generous 5’9”, a measurement that may not have held up had he been forced to submit his legitimate height, as NBA players were required to do this season. Edy Tavares is listed at 7’3”. Robinson is slight, and Tavares is all limbs. They are basically a match made in heaven for the human nutmeg.
Lowry and George Hill, are, uh, not quite as compatible for this move. Lowry is 6’ tall. George Hill is 6’3”. There is little room for Lowry under Hill’s legs. Additionally, I mentioned that Robinson was slight. Kyle Lowry is, at the very least, stout. Good thing this didn’t happen five years ago. While 2020 Kyle Lowry clearly did not fit under Hill’s legs, 2015 Lowry would have had no chance.
Lowry last year v. Lowry this year pic.twitter.com/gxekrrl4dw— rajma rondo (@brownasthenight) September 29, 2016
If Lowry was truly inspired by Robinson, then while it was a fun idea, it was clearly ill-advised. We have to be aware of our own body’s limitations. I’ve seen a contortionist, but I don’t go trying to put my leg behind my head unless I want to lose permanent function in my hips.
A Different Angle
I can only assume that Lowry’s vision was hindered by Hill’s pressure. Perhaps Lowry wanted a better view of the floor without starting his dribble and the most efficient way of doing so was by ducking under Hill’s legs. Just like a turtle, Lowry’s head would emerge from his shell (George Hill’s body), check everything out on the floor, then recede back to his regular position. This only works if the shell (once again, the shell in this metaphor is George Hill’s body) cooperates, and Hill clearly had no intention of doing so.
The nice low angle could even have given Lowry a different perspective on the geometry of the floor, just as Tiger Woods gets into a nice deep squat to read the green.
Basically, this could have been a perfectly normal basketball play. If George Hill didn’t ruin this, then Lowry would have brought his head back, used his new point of view to throw a crafty alley-oop to Pascal Siakam. After that, we would all go on with our days and not trouble ourselves with this. Due to George Hill’s antagonistic nature, we now have to ask the hard questions.
We always talk about how different the modern NBA is from the sport not even a decade ago. Sure, floor spacing, positional versatility, and analytics are all fine and dandy, but how about in-game GIF creation? Lowry thinks the game on another level that most. Maybe he thinks the game outside the game on another level too.
If he really nailed it, i.e. started with his face out of the camera angle, slowly emerged from between Hill’s legs, then poked his head out with a mischievous smirk, then we would have a contender for the GOAT NBA GIF. Even now, this has the potential to be up there with some great NBA GIFs, such as Alonzo Mourning acceptance, Nick Young celebrating a missed three, and Draymond Green’s face of disbelief.
It would have been great for a self-deprecating social media post, as some athletes have taken to doing after putting themselves in comical scenarios. A sly remark combined with that GIF, and Lowry is instantly even more likeable.
In fact, if the Raptors had completed the comeback that they toyed with in the fourth quarter of the Milwaukee game, I had a couple Tweet ideas locked and loaded that involved the GIF of Lowry poking his head out. Something like “Just when you think the Raptors are going to lose a game,” and then seeing a smirking Lowry emerge would have worked splendidly. There’s always the classic “[Kyle Lowry narrates] so you’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation.” Or perhaps, “If the Hill is too big to climb, then burrow under it instead.”
Ok, maybe the last one isn’t that great. It’s still in the workshop phase. There’s something there though, I can feel it. Nonetheless, though it was not perfect, a GIF has been created. We get to enjoy this strange moment along with the rest of Lowry’s unique career.
Whether intentional or not, the Kyle Lowry human nutmeg provided a fun, light moment in an otherwise heated battle. To those complaining about it on Twitter, citing it as a reason that they dislike Lowry, you have it all wrong. This is the reason we love Kyle Lowry. He’s whiny, combative, and a general pest to opponents, but everything he does puts winning at the forefront. If this move had given him an edge, he would do it again, and we would endorse it happily.