They were sitting in the 17th floor's corner office, long glass windows offering a majestic cityscape, and Kyle Lowry listened to a most mild-mannered man raise his voice louder and louder. Masai Ujiri, the Toronto Raptors president and general manager, was hired with a mandate to transform this franchise, and he understood nothing could speed the process faster than the point guard transforming himself.

So on the eve of training camp, something irritated Ujiri, and this episode promised to be the final conversation these two would ever have on the matter of Lowry's maturation. All this talent, all these disappointments, and Ujiri had a determination to speak his mind and leave Lowry to make the choices that promised to dictate his future with the Raptors.

Ujiri climbed out of his seat, marched across the room, lifted a binder from his desk and pretended to pass it into imaginary hands. Someday, Ujiri told him, this will be you walking up to NBA general managers at the Chicago predraft camp, trying to get a scouting job. They'll want no part of you, no part of your reputation. Ujiri told Lowry he'd be playing out his career on one-year deals on the low end of the NBA's salary scale.

Once and for all, Masai Ujiri told Kyle Lowry the truth.

Oh, how Ujiri loves Lowry's game – his talent, his ferocity, his intellect – and how he wanted him to understand: Spare your career this maddening, self-fulfilling prophecy and honor a relentless summer of conditioning and commitment with the best season of your life.

Ujiri didn't hear excuses out of Lowry, only noticing his knowing nods and hurting eyes. Lowry was listening. Finally, he was listening.