Kyle Lowry is the greatest Raptor of all time, so it’s only right that he ends his illustrious NBA career with the franchise he spent nine seasons leading.

“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,” Lowry told The Undefeated in a wide-ranging interview. “That is my everything,” 

The 35-year-old averaged 17.5 points, 7.1 assists, and 4.9 rebounds during his time in Toronto, where he had great individual success as a six-time NBA All-Star and played a key role in the franchise’s lone title in 2019.

After playing 601 regular-season games for the Raptors, his time in Toronto was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, as he played out his final season with the Raptors in Tampa Bay in 2020-21 before a sign-and-trade sent him to the Miami Heat on a three-year, $85 million contract this offseason.

In fact, his final game in Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena was Feb. 28, 2020. So, it’s no wonder he is nervous about returning to Toronto as a member of the Heat on Feb. 3, 2022.

“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 [former Raptors teammate] DeMar [DeRozan] 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 says he had an open line of communication with Raptors general manager Bobby Webster and president Masai Ujiri. Still, he says the decision to leave the Raptors was “bittersweet because I never wanted to leave,” but with Canada’s complicated citizenship laws and his children growing older, he wanted to settle somewhere where they could be more stable no matter what happened in his basketball career.

“That was a lot of money, man. I was very happy for him,” Fred VanVleet said about Lowry’s move. “We kind of knew it was leaning that way. What he meant to this, the team, the franchise, the country of Canada, it’s hard to put into words.”

Lowry says he still watches Raptors’ games and texts VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and even ex-Raptor Norman Powell, who are “family” to him.

“I left the franchise in a great place to my little brothers. They are truly my little brothers. No, they are family. They are equals to me. They’re just younger than me,” Lowry says. “And I’ve left the franchise in a place where Pascal is an All-Star, right? He’s going to come back, have a great [season]. Freddy’s going to continue to get better. He’s going to emerge as an even better leader. They’re guys who are still young. OG, 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. And they can, too, but now it’s theirs. I left the franchise in a great place.”

Lowry says that while he is in Miami chasing that high of winning another championship—saying it’s a “high you cannot match”—he will never forget the bonds he formed with the Raptors in his nine seasons in Toronto.

“They’re taking it from me and saying, ‘We got you.’ And it’s a proud moment,” Lowry says about the young Raptors.

“We’ve created bonds that we will have forever. 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.”