Kyle Lowry and Stephen Curry are facing off again. This time, it’s on the golf course at the American Century Championship. Lowry and the Toronto Raptors took down Curry and the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on June 13. Curry seeks redemption in Edgewood Tahoe. The sharpshooting guard has finished in fourth place twice over six ACC tournaments. He’s booked at 15-1 odds by Caesars Entertainment. “Once you get a little taste of success you want more,” he said. “ I think one year I was in the final group, and coming down the back nine, a birdie here, there, might get you a chance to win, that elevates your expectations.” Entering his second appearance, Lowry is looking to improve upon his rocky start last year. The muscular 6-foot-1 guard finished tied for 64th and stands at 1000-1 odds.“This isn’t my profession,” he said. “But to get an opportunity to come out here, play golf and do something that I actually love and to hang out with some great people and some friends of mine is always one of those things — you just enjoy every moment of it. But there’s no internal pressure.”The Warriors and Raptors were recent victims of the 2019 NBA Free Agency period. Toronto forward Kawhi Leonard signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers on July 5. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George joined him in a trade that sent four unprotected first-round draft picks to the Thunder. Despite Leonard’s absence, Lowry is proud of leading the Raptors to their first NBA championship in franchise history.“I’m happy and excited about the things we did this year and accomplished,” he said. “It’s things that I look back on. But definitely, we’re not even a month away or from it. And you still are just kind of living in that moment a little bit. It took a long time and some hard work. You just appreciate the journey that it took you on.”In the Bay Area, Warriors forward Kevin Durant joined point guard Kyrie Irving with the Brooklyn Nets on a four-year deal. Durant and Golden State won back-to-back titles and three trips to the NBA Finals in three seasons. Durant tore his Achilles tendon in Game 5 against the Raptors and is expected to miss a large portion of the 2019-20 season. “The three years that we had was special,” Curry said. “With KD, we had three-straight Finals appearances. We won two of them. And we accomplished a lot as a group. “Everybody talks about the amount of talent we had on that team, but that doesn’t guarantee that you can figure it out on the court and that you can put all the pieces together to be successful. I’m really proud of what we accomplished.” Free agency has become a whirlwind of the NBA’s premier talent making the best decisions for themselves. Curry accepts any player’s decision to move elsewhere. “The beauty of free agency is everybody has a decision,” Curry said. “Everybody has a choice, and you want to find your happiness wherever that is. And the beauty of the NBA is that everybody has that decision at some point, especially the guys that deserve it, like KD and the other top free agents.” The Warriors didn’t come out of the transaction empty handed. Golden State acquired 23-year-old guard D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade from the Nets in exchange for Durant and a projected 2020 first round draft pick. Russell is coming off his first All-Star season in Brooklyn, averaging a career-high 21.1 points and 7 assists per game. Klay Thompson — who tore his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals — is expected to miss the start of next season. Russell’s versatility off-the-dribble and the catch-and-shoot can fit in nicely with the rest of the Warriors offense. Curry and Russell will form an intriguing backcourt. “The noise he made last year was amazing,” Curry said. “What they did in Brooklyn, and him taking that next step as a certified All-Star. … He could shoot the ball, he could handle, he could pass. And having guys that are versatile like that only helps your team.” Russell’s addition to the team shipped Andre Iguodala to the Memphis Grizzlies. Iguodala, 35, spent six seasons with the Warriors and played a key role in Golden State’s title runs. Along with the camaraderie Curry and “Iggy” built over the years, it’s the countless trips on the golf course that Curry will miss the most. Both of them are participating in this year’s tournament. “I’m gonna miss him a lot in that regard,” he said. “I might have to introduce a lot of the guys to the game. I might have to get me a bunch of clubs on the plane, it’s team bonding time, let’s go out.” Lowry will be paired with Iguodala and former Toronto Raptor Vince Carter on Friday. “It’s going to be a lot of golf talk,” Lowry said. “No basketball involved. You get basketball players around each other, you don’t ever talk about basketball. Never. Never.”Curry and Lowry will look to settle their battle on the links over the three-day celebrity golf tournament at Stateline, Nevada.
ABOUT Isaiah Burrows
Tahoe Onstage sportswriter Isaiah Burrows also is a general assignment reporter for CarsonNow.org, an online news source in Carson City. He is a journalism major at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he writes sports for the Sagebrush student newspaper. He is the Reno Aces beat writer for Tahoe Onstage.