Welcome back to our KLOE Madness Bracket!
Have you had a chance to digest all of Kyle Lowry in all of his glory? Did you start making predictions on which moments or plays would ultimately win? Are you still bitter your favourite moment didn’t make the cut? Whatever your answer may be, this has quickly become the only bracket we care about!
Why bother filling out an NCAA bracket where no one’s ever achieved perfection... when a perfect bracket awaits you below?
Again, to recap, here is how our bracket will be conducted, We’ve got four regions and each has eight moments, seeded 1 through 8, for 32 moments in total.
Region one is the KLOE Region, region two is the Don’t Poke The Bear Region, region three is the Kyle L-L-L-L-Lowry Region, and region four is the When Kyle Speaks, You Listen Region. Check out our first post to see what each region signifies here.
Here is how our bracket shapes up:
Sully and I will briefly describe what each moment means to us and we will determine the winner with both of us voting on each moment. If we come to a tie, our head honcho, Daniel Reynolds will break it. But don’t you worry, reader! Fans will get to have their say in the later rounds of the bracket! Alas, let’s jump in! First up, the KLOE Region:
KLOE REGION (Best moments)
Lifting the Larry O’B (SA): After seven incredible years and an incredible NBA Finals Game 6 clincher, all of Kyle’s hard work paid off when he lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy as he and his Raptors were crowned NBA champs. The grace that followed with Kyle lifting the Larry O’B from his arms up to his head was bliss.
Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive (SA): Kyle is the greatest Raptor of all-time, but he is an even better human being. He is the good man that he is today by giving back to the community. For the past five years, he and his wife Ayahna, have been running an annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive that provides a Thanksgiving meal to families who need it most, for which the city and those who are underserved will forever be grateful.
Winner: (1) Lifting The Larry O’B
2019 ECF Game 6 Post-game Reception (SA): “Lowry-Lowry-Lowry!” It’s a chant ingrained in the memories of Raptor fans. Just before the buzzer sounded in a dominant Eastern Finals Game 6 win, Kyle was embracing and clutching his fists to his face at the fact that he will be heading to the NBA Finals for the first time in his career. To top it all off, the chants of “Lowry-Lowry-Lowry!” will forever be in the heart of both Raptor fans and Mr. KLOE himself!
Kyle & Kawhi Post-Title (SA): Kyle and Kawhi sitting down together with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols were one of the few moments that I thought Kawhi was going to stay. Kawhi opened up like we have ever seen before and the genuine connection he had with Kyle was great. It showed how both of them complete one another on and-off the court. The cherry on top was when Kawhi handed Kyle his Finals MVP trophy and said Kyle deserves it, ensuing Kyle to have one of the biggest smiles on his face! Truly an amazing moment.
Winner: (2) 2019 ECF Game 6 Post-game Reception
(3) Pre-game Intros vs. (6) Ring Ceremony
Pre-game Intros (SA): We just never know what we’re going to get from Kyle’s pre-game intros. We’ve seen them evolve from Kyle running to former Raptor Jonas Valanciunas as he stuck his hand up to his head for Kyle to run and give him a jump-high five as his name is called, to it evolving to his teammates laying on the ground, reaching for a high-five, or doing push-ups, sit-ups, or crunches followed by a high-five. Whatever the case may be, we were always in for a hilarious, wacky starting lineup routine!
Ring Ceremony (SA): The Raptors’ ring ceremony will never get old. Kyle receiving his ring will never get old. Kyle counting down from 5 to raise their championship banner will never get old. Spending the better part of his 14-year career in Toronto, through all the up-and-downs, the ring ceremony will be the cherry on top of Kyle’s lasting chapter in Toronto, whenever that may be!
Winner: (3) Pre-game Intros
Players’ Tribune “Home” (SA): After an ugly and disappointing second-round sweep at the hands of LeBron James and his Cavs in 2017, Kyle went into that offseason with a lot of options. He could have bolted for an already-title contender but instead, he re-upped when he re-signed to a 3-year, $100-million contract, dubbing Toronto as “Home.” In his article, Kyle mentioned the trade-talk rumours during his tenure in Toronto but he knew he made the right decision, stating that his Raptors “can be a championship-level team,” and he was right. It took another falter in second round of the 2018 playoffs to the Cavs, but he and his Raptors powered through to accomplish his lifelong goal he had been chasing: to be an NBA champion, just a season later. I still get goosebumps with his closing line of “And if you start something? Man, you finish it.”
Players’ Tribune “Underdog” (SA): All his life, Kyle has been dubbed as the underdog. It’s something many like being described as, in a way that it gives people that chip on their shoulder. However, Kyle doesn’t like to be labelled as such. He believes him being an underdog got him to where he is because he got lucky. Hence the title of his article, Kyle is no underdog. He is a proven NBA point guard, a proven winner, and a proven champion. Although this is all proven, he knows other fans and the media will continue to talk their talk, but they’ll never forget this, as said by Kyle: “Toronto Raptors, NBA champions. Kyle Lowry, NBA champion. That’s forever.”
Winner: (4) Players’ Tribune “Home”
DON’T POKE THE BEAR REGION (Best games)
(1) 2019 NBA Finals Game 6 vs. (8) Lowry Era Begins
2019 NBA Finals Game 6 (JR): The signature game of Lowry’s career was also the most important. After missing a potential Finals-winning, buzzer-beater in Game 5 (at home, no less), Lowry came out like a man on fire. He memorably dropped the first 11 Raptors points (eight before the Warriors got on the scoreboard), scored or assisted on 22 of Toronto’s 33 first quarter points, and hit a back-breaking fallaway jumper to the Raptors up by 6 with two minutes remaining. The opening sequence will be on Lowry highlight reels until the end of time!
Lowry’s first game (JR): I have to admit that I didn’t remember Lowry’s first game. Shame on me! Lowry kicked off his Raptors tenure with a team-high 21 points, 8 assists, and 5 steals. Jose Calderon was the incumbent Point Guard, but Lowry made an early statement that this was going to be his team soon enough!
Winner: (1) 2019 NBA Finals Game 6
(2) 2020 ECSF Game 6 vs. Celtics vs. (7) 2016 ECF Game 4 vs. Cavs
2020 East Semis Game 6 vs. Celtics (JR): This probably should be the top-seed because it’s probably the first that comes to mind when you say, “The Lowry Game.” His stat line may not jump out (33/8/6) like others in this region, but you could almost feel his impact through your screen. With their season on the brink, trailing 3-2 in the East Semis, and the other Raptors starters combining to shoot 34%, Lowry consistently came through for Toronto. Hitting the game-sealing bucket was just the cherry on top!
2016 East Finals Game 4 vs. Cavs (JR): In a season full of ground-breaking Raptors games, Game 4 of the East Finals was the last Raptors victory and, yet another Lowry gem where he carried the Raptors when their backs were against the wall. Cleveland was the defending East champs with eyes on a 3-1 series stranglehold and a repeat Finals trip. Kyle Lowry (35/5/5 on 70% shooting) had other plans.
Winner: (2) 2020 ECSF Game 6
2016 East Semis Game 7 vs. Heat (JR): What an amazing season 2015-16 was for Lowry. Half of this region’s entries are from that season. Another candidate considered for the #1 spot was Lowry’s masterpiece against Miami. He carried the Raptors to a place they’d never been to before — the Eastern Conference Finals. Producing game-highs in points (35), threes (5), assists (9), and steals (4), in a Game 7, no less, was legacy-stamping!
Dueling with Steph (JR): What an amazing season 2015-16 was for Lowry. Half of this region’s entries are from that season. Lowry went toe-to-toe with the reigning MVP, Steph Curry, scoring a then-career-high, 41 points, draining 6 triples, and producing 4 steals.
Winner: (3) 2016 ECSF Game 7
(4) Career-High 43PTS Against LeBron vs. (5) The Comeback
Career-High 43 points vs. Cavs (JR): Cleveland and Toronto entered the matchup head-and-shoulders above every other East team. In a matchup that would settle regular season tiebreakers and foreshadow a playoff duel, Lowry produced the best game of his career, period. The 43 points are still a career-high. According to Basketball Reference’s all-in-one Game Score metric, it’s the highest Game Score he’s ever produced. It was as close to a playoff game atmosphere as you could ever experience in February!
The Comeback (JR): Throughout his Raptors tenure, Kyle Lowry was the glue that stabilized the starters and enabled the bench to thrive. “Kyle + bench” was never more memorable than on December 22, 2019. Toronto was getting blitzed by the visiting Mavericks, who led by 30 points with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. From there, Kyle would lead a ragtag group including Malcolm Miller, Chris Boucher, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Redacted to an improbable comeback. Lowry (20 points) almost single-handedly outscored the Mavs (21) in the fourth quarter!
Winner: (5) The Comeback
Here is a quick look at how the left side of the bracket is looking after the first round results:
KYLE L-L-L-L-LOWRY REGION (Best plays)
Buzzer-beater vs. Heat (JR): For 47 minutes and 59 seconds, Kyle Lowry shot 2-for-11, missed all five of his 3-point attempts, and was generally invisible at the offensive end in Game 1 of Toronto’s second-round series against Miami — only the second time the franchise had every made it to Round 2. In the final second of regulation, however, with the Raptors trailing by three, Lowry hit the clutchest of baskets that ever clutched! (Yes, the Raptors ultimately wasted this miraculous shot and lost in overtime. But that won’t affect the outcome of this matchup... will it?)
Icing Game 1 of the NBA Finals (JR): Lowry has hit more important shots in his career. He’s hit shots with higher degrees of difficulty. This shot didn’t even impact the game itself. But the significance of Lowry’s pull-up three, in the last minute of a game that was already decided, had so many levels to it. Here was the GROAT winding down the clock of the first-ever NBA Finals game played in Canada, with the crowd at a fever pitch, the GROAT calmly knocks down a 28-footer to ice the game and give the Raptors a series lead they’d never relinquish! [chef’s kiss]
Winner: (8) Icing Game 1 of the NBA Finals
(2) His Greatest Steal vs. (7) Circus Shot Against Washington
His greatest steal (JR): This play captures everything that defines Kyle’s greatness.
- By leaving Eric Bledsoe behind the arc (because LOL if he’s shooting from there), he’s able to hide in the paint.
- He times his steal perfectly while Khris Middleton predictably loses his handle.
- Lowry slows down the fastbreak to allow Kawhi Leonard to catch up.
- By subtly setting an almost-illegal screen on Giannis Antetokounmpo, he provides enough space for Leonard to punctuate a series-defining 26-3 run!
Circus shot vs. Wizards (JR): It’s comical how many times Lowry is not given continuation calls on the many times he’s been fouled. To sell the call, others will scream while sending heaves at the basket. Lowry knows he may not get the call and makes an honest attempt to score, regardless of how ugly the result may be. There’s your context. The result is still unbelievable.
Winner: (2) His Greatest Steal
The Longest Pass (JR): When the NBA decided on returning to play in a fan-less, Bubble environment at Disney World, you’d think this leveled the playing field. Not the case for Mr. Lowry. Staring at an 0-3 series deficit against the Celtics, Lowry was tasked with inbounding the ball over the outstretched tree branches of 7’5” Tacko Fall. Lowry utilized his newfound space on the sideline — normally occupied by fans — gave himself more breathing room and launched the longest, most perfect pass my eyes have ever seen. The rest is history.
Cross & Feed (JR): Victor Oladipo is actually a pretty good defender. He’s typically among the league leaders in steals and can typically be seen menacing opposing guards. On this fateful play, he bites on a Lowry shot fake, then gets crossed twice (a la Iverson-on-Jordan), before finding Fields open in the corner. With his arm raised in the air, mid-shot, you could almost feel Lowry willing that shot to go in.
Winner: (3) The Longest Pass
Game-winner vs. Cavs (JR): This one of those moments you dream about while playing in your backyard. Kyle had carried the team with a career-high 41 points against the defending Eastern Conference champs. The game was knotted at 97 as the home crowd was blowing the roof off Scotiabank Arena while the final seconds tick away. One-on-one with Matthew Dellavedova, Lowry sends a violent right foot jab forward, knocking the Australian back, giving Kyle the necessary space for a step-back jumper. The shot clock continues ticking... 3... 2... 1. Swish!
All-Star Charges (JR): In what you’d assume was the lowest leverage play of the region, the All-Star Game charge — specifically the second one — certainly felt like a high-pressure moment. Can you even think of a regular-season game where a drawn charge (temporarily, at least) saved a team from losing? Lowry’s ability to draw charges is already sewn into the fabric of Raptors lore. For the rest of the basketball world to witness this artistry (at least for the fans of Team Giannis), added to the magnitude of the moment!
Winner: (5) Taking Charge of the All-Star Game
WHEN KYLE SPEAKS, YOU LISTEN REGION (Best quotes)
“Don’t Ask Me No Dumbass Questions” (SA): “Don’t ask me no dumbass questions.” It’s a one-liner that perfectly describes Kyle’s demeanour to the media, and it’s hard not to blame him! Sometimes the media does ask some head-scratching questions and it causes Kyle to pull out a great response, just like in this case. This time around, before Kyle even took questions from the media, he specifically asked them to not ask any dumbass questions, and lo-and-behold, the media proceeded to do so, ask Kyle if a game against the Warriors in November was anything other than another regular-season game.
Kyle’s Colourful Recap (SA): We’re not quite sure why Kyle decided to conduct his media presser speaking what is almost like a hockey player following a January 2020 regular-season win against the Pelicans, but in the words of Kyle, speaking like a hockey player, “it was, uh, great, uh, yeah!”
Winner: (1) “Don’t Ask Me No Dumbass Questions”
(2) “We Brought It Home, Baby” vs. (7) Sh*t (x2)
“We Brought It Home, Baby” (SA): After the Raptors won the NBA title, they were presented with the Larry O’B, to which they all got to lift over their head. During the presentation, ESPN’s Doris Burke interviewed Kyle on the big stage, asking what it meant for him to be from North Philly to win it all. His point of realization of winning it all for, not only where he came from, but for the country he plays basketball in, came when he yelled “Canada, we brought it home, baby!” It’s a line Raptor fans will ever forget.
Sh*t (x2) (SA): Sh*t. It’s a word that can be used when describing the 2020-21 NBA season. But for Kyle, he blurted out “sh*t” twice, accidentally, following a win against the Houston Rockets. It occurred when TSN’s Kate Beirness was interviewing Kyle postgame, where Kyle was praising the back-up head coach Sergio Scariolo and the rest of the coaching staff for coaching the team to the win as Nick Nurse and among others were out due to health safety protocols. As the interview was going on, Kyle was spinning the game-ball with his hand until it slipped out and fell, leading to, well, “sh*t” on live TV, followed by a hilarious “oopsies” reaction by Kyle.
Winner: (2) “We Brought it Home, Baby”
(3) Media Jokes vs. (6) Kyle The Reporter
Media Jokes (SA): Again, there is never not a moment when Kyle pokes fun at the media. Following a regular-season game win against the Sacramento Kings, Kyle began his postgame media presser like usual, until one of the media members asked “what’s the best and worst part of these road trips?” as Toronto was about to head on a five-game west road trip. Kyle replied with “the best part of it is not being around y’all [media],” and that is when Sportnet’s Michael Grange immediately replied with “I’ll be there,” to which Kyle hit back with “there it is, that is the worst part.” Classic Kyle, folks!
Kyle The Reporter (SA): Following the Raptors’ winning the NBA Finals, Fred VanVleet found himself at the postgame media conference, being asked a question by a familiar face in media row. Seated with the press, Kyle asked Fred “how does it feel like to be a world champion?” which led to Fred praising Kyle in the best of ways. Just a perfect interaction!
Winner: (6) Kyle The Reporter
(4) “USC (Math), Baby” vs. (5) Stumped By a Jr. NBA Reporter
“USC (Math), Baby” (SA): The Toronto Raptors found themselves in London, England, as part of the NBA’s Global Games. The team was holding their media availability and that is when former Raptor DeMar DeRozan slipped up on his basic math skills! DeMar wanted to leave London with a 1-2 career record, but he said he wanted to walk out of London with a 1-3 record, and that is when Kyle caught the error when he found out DeMar was going to play his third game, meaning that 1-3 record he wanted was off! Kyle hit DeMar with a slight knock of his alma mater with “USC, baby!”
Stumped By a Jr. NBA Reporter (SA): During an NBA Finals pregame media conference, a Jr. NBA Reporter asked Kyle “what it’s like to be an icon all over Canada to kids,” to which Kyle was taken back by. He appreciated the question and provided a wholesome answer by stating he holds himself to a high standard for kids to look up to. Following his answer, another media member was about to ask a question before Kyle challenged the reporter in saying that they will not be able to beat that question asked by the Jr. NBA Reporter!
Winner: (4) “USC (Math), Baby”
Here is a quick look at how the right side of the bracket is looking after the first round results:
And there you have it. Our first round results are in! Here is how the complete bracket is looking:
Stay tuned on Saturday to see how the second round unfolds!