Skip to content

From late-arriving to a LeBron James favorite, Kevin Love comes full circle

Aug 26, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT

Kevin Love didn’t immediately trust LeBron James.

Repeatedly during the 2012 Olympics, LeBron sat near Love and praised the then-Timberwolves forward. Love didn’t know whether to take the compliments at face value or… Really, he didn’t know what to do.

So, Love brushed it off.

At the All-Star Game the next season, which Love missed due to injury, the pair spoke again in greater depth. Finally, Love was convinced – LeBron appreciated his game, and a real bond formed.

Now, Love and LeBron are teammates in Cleveland.

“It just goes to show you that things come full circle,” Love said today at his introductory press conference with the Cavaliers.

LeBron couldn’t have known in 2012 he’d ever have the chance to play with Love two years later, but the players developed a mutual respect for each other in London. By this summer, Love was unhappy in Minnesota, and LeBron was a free agent. By signing in Cleveland, LeBron set into motion Love joining him.

“I was the first call that he made after he signed,” Love said, “and I’m very happy about that.”

“LeBron had signed to come back with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Just a few hours post, he called me, and I said, ‘You know what? I’m in.’ That had a lot do with my decision.”

It’s a little funny – if you don’t understand how much power NBA superstars wield – to hear Love call this arrangement “his decision.” After all, Love is under contract for next season and technically had no control where the Timberwolves trade him. His main realistic influence was the ability to opt in as a condition of a deal, but it doesn’t seem that happened here.

However, there was a report Love promised to opt out and re-sign for five years next summer. Given that such a scheme would violate NBA rules, Love – sitting next to Cavaliers general manager David Griffin –  of course gave no details when asked how long he’d stay in Cleveland.

“That is something that hasn’t been talked about, but like I told Griff in our meetings and Dan Gilbert as well and the powers that be in the front office and all the way down that I’m committed to this team,” Love said. “Committed long term to that end goal, and that’s to win championships and to win a championship here in Ohio.”

Winning a championship is something the Cavaliers have never done and something any major pro team in Cleveland hasn’t done since 1964.

Love, a student of the game, is mindful of that history. It showed when he discussed his change to No. 0.

His number in Minnesota, 42, has been retired by the Cavaliers for Nate Thurmond. Love praised Thurmond and appreciated his willingness to let Love wear the number, but ultimately, Love wanted a fresh start.

His Olympic number, 11, was also retired – for Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Love’s third choice – 7, which his mom considered lucky for him – was retired for Bingo Smith.

That left one other option.

Love told a story of joining a new team growing up in Oregon, and he was the last to arrive for a tournament. Nearly every jersey had been taken.

“There was the 0 for me,” said Love, likely the last major domino to fall this offseason.

“It really brings me back to Portland, which is Oregon, the O,” Love said. “And then as Griff told me later in a text too, when I told him what number I was going to choose, he also said can’t forget Ohio, too. And he’s right.”

Full circle indeed.

Latest Posts
  1. James Ennis allows Heat to push back decision on him until opening night

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:40 AM EDT

    Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    Ennis will get the chance to prove his case in training camp.

  2. Gregg Popovich missed games last November due to heart procedure

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Gregg Popovich Gregg Popovich

    Larry Brown said the condition had Popovich thinking about retirement.

  3. Larry Bird says Stephen Curry, himself in mix for best deep shooter ever

    Jul 27, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT

    Larry Bird Larry Bird

    Bird also says Jordan would destroy him one-on-one right now.

  4. Report: Heat will pick up contract of Tyler Johnson, as expected

    Jul 27, 2015, 6:32 PM EDT

    Tyler Johnson AP

    James Ennis seems on the bubble with Miami.

  5. Roy Hibbert pleased to have a coach who played in NBA (psst: it’s Byron Scott)

    Jul 27, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Game Four Getty Images

    Center goes from Frank Vogel to Byron Scott and is happy about it

  6. Will Bucks arena deal pass Wisconsin Assembly?

    Jul 27, 2015, 3:08 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks New Court Getty Images

    Key Democrat implies it’s not a certainty

  7. Report: Kings trying to hire Bobby Jackson, too

    Jul 27, 2015, 2:19 PM EDT

    Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Vlade Divac is trying to put the band back together

  8. Report: Cavaliers sign Matthew Dellavedova

    Jul 27, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT

    2015 NBA Finals - Game Six Getty Images

    Did he accept the qualifying offer?

  9. Pacers sign Shayne Whittington, guarantee his salary for this season

    Jul 27, 2015, 12:11 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Orlando Magic White Getty Images

    Indiana apparently liked what is saw from undrafted free agent last season

  10. Heat trade Zoran Dragic, second-rounder to Celtics

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT

    Zoran Dragic, Stanley Johnson, Jared Berggren AP

    Protected second-round pick going back to Celtics

  11. Report: LeBron James OKs Mike Miller trade

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    2015 NBA Finals - Game Three Getty Images

    Miller reportedly wanted to leave Cavaliers for a team that would play him more

  12. Reports: Knicks signing Darion Atkins, Wesley Saunders

    Jul 27, 2015, 9:32 AM EDT

    Michigan State v Virginia Getty Images

    Both players to receive partially guaranteed contracts

  13. Report: Thunder, Grizzlies, Mavericks interested in Mike Miller

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    2015 NBA Finals - Game Two Getty Images

    If Miller wants to be on a contender, it may not happen before the season starts.

  14. Gary Vitti, Laker trainer for everyone from Magic through Kobe Bryant, to retire after next season

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    If he ever writes a biography of his time with the team, that will be a must read.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (2986)
  2. S. Curry (2919)
  3. K. Durant (2241)
  4. J. Fredette (2238)
  5. T. Hansbrough (2148)
  1. L. James (2057)
  2. B. Haywood (2050)
  3. I. Thomas (1958)
  4. C. Copeland (1868)
  5. P. Prigioni (1867)