Sportress of Blogitude

Kevin Love pens piece for ‘The Players’ Tribune,’ addresses ‘craziness’ of last summer

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As Kevin Love prepares to enter an NBA season where he is a member of a team with championship aspirations as opposed to one with the empty hope of somehow scaling the standings into the top 8 of the ridiculously competitive Western Conference, Cleveland Cavaliers power forward took a moment to reminisce and reflect on an incredibly eventful summer.

The tumultuous nature of Love’s summer was of course somewhat self-inflicted as he essentially forced his way out of Minnesota, ending his six-year run with the Timberwolves. At the same time, his hand was forced in a sense after the previous management regime refused to give the team’s unquestioned franchise player a max deal.

With one season remaining before Love could opt-out of his contract with the T’Wolves, the team had little choice but to deal the disgruntled forward in an effort to maximize its return as it parted ways with the superstar.

In the end, it was a mutually beneficial arrangement. The Cavaliers got a significant piece to its championship-chasing puzzle while the Wolves stocked its roster with young, hungry and talented players, who, while short on experience, are high on potential.

In an essay entitled “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” for Derek Jeter-fronted “The Players’ Tribune,”  Love (who joins Russell Wilson and Blake Griffin among the site’s Senior Editors) acknowledges how unsettling it was to be in a pseudo-professional limbo over the summer, reflects on his time in Minnesota and thanks those who supported him along the way.

Calling the ups and downs involved in the process of switching organizations “exhausting,” Love writes that it was a summer dedicated to seeking out distractions.

I spent most of my summer either working out or trying to escape the craziness through Netflix binge watching. I tore through more than 40 of the IMDB Top 250. That’s not even counting the TV marathons. I did every single episode of Seinfeld (holds up), Curb Your Enthusiasm (the best), Mad Men and Game of Thrones (twice). I can win any argument with you about why GOT is the best show currently on TV.

Things were especially tough because for a month before the trade was finalized, Wiggins and I were caught in NBA purgatory. Is this happening, is this not happening? With everything up in the air, I felt like I couldn’t say a proper goodbye to Minnesota. And once the trade finally went through, everything happened quickly.

Love immediately transitions into expressing gratitude to the Timberwolves organization and its fans before sharing how spending his formative professional years in Minnesota helped shape him into the player he is today.

So I’d like to take a moment to thank the fans of Minnesota for six great years. I still remember sitting in Madison Square Garden when I was first drafted in 2008, thinking that if I could go anywhere it would be to the Timberwolves to work with one of my childhood idols, Kevin McHale. There are so many people in Minnesota who helped to shape my game and mold me into the player I am today. I’ll always be fond of going to Manny’s Steakhouse, and the support I got from the entire Minnesota community — even in tough times — is something I’ll remember forever. (Seriously, thanks for not burning my jersey, you guys.) 

I grew up a lot – personally and professionally – during my time with the Wolves. I’ll be the first to tell you that I didn’t always handle things perfectly. We are all unfinished products. It’s not easy to handle the disappointment of losing when you’re in your early twenties. There were times when I wasn’t easy to be around in the locker room. It’s hard to be a leader when you don’t have the model — and when you don’t have a blueprint for what winning in the NBA looks like.

Love writes that despite posting one of the better statistical showings of his career last season (averaging 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game while shooting 37.6% from three-point range), it wasn’t enough to lead the Wolves to the postseason.

He also mentions that he learned that there is such a thing as an “empty stat,” the act of putting up monster numbers without meaning or merit, a critique often levied against Love. The sharpshooting forward shrugs off the criticism, writing, “I’ll try to remember the importance of that the next time I am boxing out for a rebound against Tim Duncan.”

Love goes on to discuss the process involved in becoming acclimated to a new team, a new role, a new situation, equating the transition to “the first day of school.”

Love expresses sympathy for Andrew Wiggins, the player who went through a similarly turbulent summer and was the centerpiece to the trade that effectuated Love’s move to Cleveland, writing that the 19-year-old rookie’s conduct throughout the entire ordeal was “poised and impressive.”

Some may argue, especially those left embittered by some of Love’s antics during the long, arduous process — such as his “free agent trip” to Boston, for instance — that it would have been something to see Love conduct himself in a similar “poised and impressive” manner. But what’s done is done and the past is the past.

In the end, all parties involved — the Wolves, the Cavaliers, Love, Wiggins, etc. — may be better off, all ultimately ending up as benefactors of the wild events of one crazy summer.