The latter days of July, after the free-agency frenzy, are supposed to be calm. Dialed down, at least. Rumors evaporate into the summer heat. Trades and signings are set out to dry. But the offseason dealing isn’t over yet for Dan Gilbert, or for a Cavaliers team that, left without a general manager at the draft, was never quite ready for it to start.
Kyrie Irving reportedly wants to leave. LeBron James, too. The King is shooting off cryptic Instagram Stories, whether it’s a facade or not, unpleased. Irving posts the opposite, focusing solely on his Nike basketball trip to China. Meanwhile, Kevin Love is tweeting about a fallen prince of Dorne. He appears bored of the turmoil, the summer, and, maybe, even his own team.
"Peculiar" is the word Kyrie used to describe the state of the Cavalier franchise just before he asked for a trade; it shouldn’t be viewed as a coincidence that it’s the same word K-Love chose just two hours after the news of Irving’s trade request dropped. But it’s uncharacteristic for Love to take on that antagonistic personality on social media. And before this summer, it was uncharacteristic for him to take on any personality on social media.
Love barely "likes," (113 times as of publication — 16 tennis-related, 11 Banana Republic, six about Russell Westbrook [same], one Beach Boys), barely tweets (1,366 times), barely follows (396 accounts — some highlights: Rihanna, Ellen, M. Night Shyamalan, an archive of the Obama administration, "relatable quotes" for Virgos; some lowlights: Stacey Dash, Robert Kardashian). His bio, "Spread Love," which is maybe clever, maybe sanguine, rests just underneath a throwback picture of him as a kid. Baby Love is wearing an oversize white T-shirt with a purple basketball and the word "BASKETBALL" printed above it and holding the same worn-out, pebbling-turned-smooth, grayish basketball that sits in your parent’s garage.
Love’s Instagram is more adulation, whether to NBA greats or to his own Banana Republic closet. The rare exception is his second-most-recent post. It’s another throwback, this time to a 2007 photo shoot with Slam Magazine, when he was still at UCLA, pre-slim-down, with a buzz cut that would, against all odds, become the hair it is today.
But this summer, he is tweeting. Just not about basketball. Whereas before, his feed was a mix of sponsored content, congratulatory hat tips to basketball performances, and Cavs/LeBron shout-outs, now it’s anything but:
That’s homage to Roger Federer, who on the tweet’s date became the first man to win an eighth Wimbledon title. Love tweeted 15 times about tennis before this one, then switched to pop culture (sports and pop culture — now there’s an idea for the internet).
Instead of an Instagram Story where he would nod along to a song about loyalty, there’s a reaction — "Wow" — to the first photo of Al Pacino playing Joe Paterno. Where the Athlete in the Gym clip should be, Love will instead screenshot an Amy Winehouse song on the anniversary of the British singer’s death.
Social media is the place we would find news about him, his job, his future, his teammate’s future, if Love were like so many other athletes. And before this summer — though we all loved the sponsored content — he was. But now Love uses his social media exactly how we do: to avoid work-related matters.