raptors rookies 2021

Kyle Lowry stages hilarious rookie initiation ceremony for new Raptors

You can always count on the Toronto Raptors to cheer everyone up when things are looking down — even while they're stuck in Florida, missing home fiercely in the midst of an out-of-control global pandemic.

The 2019 NBA champions, currently sitting at 12th in the eastern conference, may not be crushing it on the court as regularly as they were in recent years, but spirits remain high and downright infectious with veteran guard Kyle Lowry (still) serving as the team's leader.

A video shared by the franchise on Twitter Friday morning is making fans all the more grateful that Lowry was not, in fact, traded at the end of March as was rumoured, and hopeful about their team's newest rookie cards.

"Mawnin', fam. Just gonna drop this here to make sure you guys have a blessed Friday," wrote whoever is Running the @Raptors account when sharing the video this morning. "Enjoy."

In the roughly two-and-half minute clip, we see Lowry (sorry, Dr. Lowry) calling his "young rookies" to "the stage" in his best announcer voice.

First up is a nervous looking 22-year-old Malachi Flynn, a Tacoma, Washington, native who was selected as the 29th pick in the first round of the 2020 NBA draft and called up from the team's G league earlier this year.

Flynn is quickly joined by fellow rookie Freddie Gillespie, 23, whom Lowry also calls up to "the stage" (aka the middle of their Tampa Bay hotel ballroom practice space) as the rest of the team cheers.

"We've got them singing the greatest song in the history of songs," announces Lowry. "Party USA by Miley Cyrus."

Lowry and fellow NBA champion Fred VanVleet hand the young men lyric sheets. "You know how to sing this song?" asks Lowry of Flynn and Gillespie. "Well you're going to figure it out."

The team's beloved leader even goes so far as to sing some of the lyrics for the rookies before starting the karaoke track. When they ask if the whole team will be singing, Lowry clarifies that Flynn and Gillespie must sing together, alone. 

"You've got to dance, too!" shouts someone else as the team cracks up.

Both players are reserved at first, nervously clutching their lyric sheets while their team members groove to the music and clap.

Eventually, though, with some encouragement from the crowd, Gillespie lets loose and really starts performing.

Born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the 23-year-old power forward initially signed a 10-day contract with the Raptors on April 10.  Pleased with his performance, the franchise had him sign another contract for just 10 days on April 18.

He scored 10 points, two rebounds, one assist and one steal that very same day to help the Raptors beat OKC 112-106 and now, as this morning's initiation video goes viral, even more fans are calling for the Raptors to offer him a full contract.

Apparently, this kind of karaoke initiation is a tradition for the Raptors — VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and the recently traded Norman Powell all had to dance for Lowry as part of their initiation in 2016.

At that time, however, they had to perform in front of fans during an open practice at what was then the Air Canada Centre. At least this year's rookies got to do their dance privately... sort of.

As of Friday afternoon, nearly 400,000 people had viewed the initiation video on Twitter alone, which might bode well for Gillespie in the future, should he not make it as an NBA player for some reason. Pop stars also have cool careers.

Lead photo by

Toronto Raptors


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