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Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry celebrates during the team's championship parade, in Toronto, on June 17, 2019.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Kyle Lowry still thinks of Toronto as home, and plans to retire as a Raptor.

The former Raptor, a fan favourite and arguably the greatest player in franchise history, told The Undefeated recently he still has strong ties to the city he represented for nine seasons.

“That’s still home. Like I’ve said, and I’ll say it now, I will sign a one-day contract and I’ll retire as a Toronto Raptor. That is my everything,” Lowry said.

Lowry left for Miami in the offseason, signing a three-year, US$85-million contract in a sign-and-trade deal with the Heat.

The 35-year-old, who averaged 17.5 points, 7.1 assists and 4.9 rebounds for the Raptors and played a key role in the team’s NBA championship in 2019, expects his return to Scotiabank Arena – the Heat play in Toronto on Feb. 3 – will be tough.

“I’m a man’s man, but I know I’m going to be a little bit sensitive and crying that day. I don’t know. I might hold it in,” Lowry said. “I’ve talked to DeMar [DeRozan, his former Raptors teammate] about it. But it’s one of them days where I know it’s going to be a lot of love for me and me giving love back, it’s just going to be interesting how it goes down because I don’t know what to expect.”

Lowry said providing stability for his sons, Karter and Kameron, was a big reason for leaving. They’d grown up in Toronto, but Lowry said he never had plans to settle in Canada.

He said there were no hard feelings between himself and Raptors management around his departure. He still texts president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster.

He left the team, he said, in a “great place.” Pascal Siakam he pointed out, is an all star, and Fred VanVleet will continue to improve.

“He’s going to emerge as an even better leader. They’re guys who are still young. OG [Anunoby], you see his emergence as the offensive player. They will get more of the attention now. I would take all the blame because I wanted to. I never wanted them to have to deal with that stuff, because I just felt I could take the world on my shoulders.

“They’re taking it from me and saying, ‘We got you.’ And it’s a proud moment.”

Lowry said he still watches Raptors games, and regularly talks to VanVleet, Anunoby and Siakam.

“We’ve created bonds that we will have forever,” he said. “And those are people, those are kids and guys that are men now that I’ll support and cheer for no matter what the situation is.”

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