The NBA is on hold for the foreseeable future. To help fill the void, we’re looking back at the defining moments of the 65-ish games of the 2019-20 season so far.
It’s weird that Kevin Love still plays basketball in Cleveland.
It’s not weird that he’s not on a great team; he played the first six years of his career in Minnesota, never once making the playoffs. It’s not weird that he’s playing out a max contract that the rest of the league has deemed undesirable; his offense has always been outstanding, but his defense has always come with questions.
It’s just weird that he still plays basketball in Cleveland—the city where his trade for no. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins sparked debate; the city where he couldn’t fit into LeBron James’s ideal vision of championship chemistry; the city where he helped win a title by defending the back-to-back league MVP in a crucial late-game possession on the road in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Everyone else—save Tristan Thompson—is gone from the 2016 championship team. LeBron is on the Lakers, Kyrie is surfing the astral plane, J.R. Smith is out of the league, and Ty Lue is an assistant coach for the Clippers. Of all people, Love remains. I think he thinks that’s weird, too. I think, at times, he might think other things about still being in Cleveland. Like, for example, “Fuck them kids.”
so we know about the fine and outburst at practice already, here’s the sequence Kevin Love and John Beilein appear to be upset with each other before halftime buzzer. Love then rifles a pass and gets immediately taken out. pic.twitter.com/qxGaWEjID4— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 5, 2020
The beauty of this NBA moment isn’t that it’s particularly consequential, or even representative of Love’s relationship with Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, and the rest of the Cavs’ young core. Love later said that his frustration was situational, and that he has a good relationship with Sexton. Maybe his frustration was really a product of being unable to force a trade off a team coached by John Beilein. Love and other Cavs veterans didn’t seem down to relearn the triple-threat position from a converted Big Ten coach. It’s not lost on me that Kevin Love has made it on to The Ringer’s list of Defining NBA Moments for two reasons that don’t exactly sing the praises of his place among the league’s best: getting mad at his teammates and almost being dunked on by (likely) Rookie of the Year Ja Morant. Sometimes the limelight of the NBA passes you by, or in this case, over the top of you.
It’s just comforting to know that even in a workplace as singular as the National Basketball Association, you can have a bad day and get frustrated with your coworkers. And it’s doubly comforting to know that where you and I might chuck the proverbial 100 mile-per-hour swing pass at our coworkers’ shins because they keep replying all to an email thread about TV brackets and sports moments to revisit, Love literally chucks a 100 mph swing pass at Osman in the middle of a televised basketball game. (Justice for Cedi, he did nothing wrong here.)
The moment was eventually forgotten, just like the rest of Love’s 18-10-3 season. But it holds strong in my heart as the next chapter in a long and illustrious history of NBA veterans absolutely hating to play with younger players, especially ones who pound the air out of the ball and average just three assists. Don’t ever say LeBron—who has fired every under-25-year-old teammate of his straight into the sun—didn’t teach Love anything. In this moment, Kevin Love finally stopped finding a way to FIT-OUT.