Near the end of Toronto’s blowout win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night, the Toronto TV cameras caught Raptor guard Kyle Lowry beaming with a smile that stretched from ear to ear. He had good reason to, as Lowry contributed 23 on only eight shots in under 30 minutes of action in the 116-94 win, but such toothy reactions aren’t usually Lowry’s stock in trade. Few have ever doubted the dogged Lowry’s talent, but he’s also been characterized as a churlish sort at times, feuding with several of his NBA coaches. Things are looking up for Lowry and his Raptors, though, as the team is now 4.5 games ahead of the traveling Brooklyn Nets for the lead in the Atlantic Division.
This, and a bit of social media pressure, were why Lowry and the Raptors decided to right one of the great wrongs of 2013. One of the last wrongs of 2013. You might recall this:
Yes, that’s some d-bag stealing a pair of shoes from a visiting Raptor fan after Lowry decided to hurl them in the direction of a guy in an Amir Johnson’s jersey following a Toronto win over the Chicago Bulls on New Year’s Eve.
Word soon got out that the Raptors fan in question (the d-bag, shockingly, hasn’t surfaced) was Alan Vale, a fixture at many Raps games. Vale was visiting Chicago on New Year’s Eve with his apparent fiancée, and when his loss went a bit viral, the fiancée and a few others started sending @ replies on Twitter Lowry’s way; just to let him know that his shoes didn’t reach their intended destination.
When the Raptors invited Vale to a home contest on Monday for an “interview,” Alan had to know something was up. He played it cool, though, in talking to Jay Satur at the team’s official website:
Vale, along with his friend Francis, was invited to take in pregame warmups courtside on Monday. He was then taken to the players lounge for what he thought was an interview about his story, only to have Lowry arrive to personally delivered a pair of his shoes.
“Blown away,” was how Vale described his response to Lowry’s gesture. “We’re in the middle of an interview and then all of a sudden, there’s the starting point guard for the Toronto Raptors.
“I was not expecting that. Absolutely not. I was pretty blown away just to be sitting courtside and watching the shootaround. This is definitely one of the highlights of my being a Raptors fan.”
Yet another feel-good story for Toronto, a basketball community that has been needlessly taunted by the ups and downs of the NBA for 19 years. The Raps are well on their way to the playoffs in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, coach Dwane Casey is off the hot seat and the proud recipient of the NBA’s Coach of the Month award for December, and Lowry will likely stick out the season in Toronto after being tossed out as trade bait earlier in the season.
And Alan Vale gets his shoes. I guess the guy that grabbed them in Chicago can rest easy, now, presuming he can live with himself.
(Hat tip: Jay Satur.)
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