The Cleveland Cavaliers are off to an eight-and-one start. Players like Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen are a huge reason why this team is finding success night in and night out.
There is a familiar face who comes off the bench each night, and that would be the 15-year veteran Kevin Love. Love has significantly impacted this team, from being the old veteran in the locker room to the leader to coming off the bench. Thus being the go-to guy when the unit is struggling to find the basket.
Love, a five-time all-star in the league for many years, had to sit back and accept a bench role in the 2021 season. It helped the team get better, and it made it go from being one of the league’s worst teams to fighting for a playoff spot in the play-in games.
Love’s beginning with the Cavs
The Minnesota Timberwolves traded Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers in August of 2014. This was the same offseason Lebron James announced his return. The Cleveland Cavaliers started their own big three with James, point guard Kyrie Irving, and Love. They soon to took over the league.
The power forward was injured in the 2015 first-round playoff series vs. the Boston Celtics. He missed the rest of the postseason that year. Love was also injured in the 2016 NBA finals vs. the Golden State Warriors when he suffered a concussion in game two. He would miss game three of that series. Richard Jefferson started in his place, and the Cavaliers rolled over the Warriors.
Many people thought Love was a liability on the defensive end and that he was not the same All-Star player he once was. So, when the Cavaliers went down three games to one to the Warriors in 2016, Love was the first guy who was getting blamed. Many people wanted to be shipped out of town.
Love ended up being a massive part of why the Cavaliers came back three games to one to win their first NBA Championship in franchise history. He had a huge defensive stop when he guarded Warrior’s star point guard and league MVP Steph Curry, making him miss the shot.
He had been rumored a lot during the four years he played with James to be traded and for the team to get an upgrade for him. However, Irving wanted out of Cleveland and was traded to the Boston Celtics in 2017, and James left and signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in summer of 2018.
Love was always rumored to be the first player to go out of the big three, but he was the only one that ended up staying. Love signed a four-year, 120-million-dollar deal in the summer of 2018 to remain in Cleveland.
The veteran only ended up playing in 103 games through the first three seasons of his new deal, and the contract looked horrible. In addition, the Cavaliers were not a good basketball team, and Love was sometimes frustrated with the team and showed no interest.
The 2021 season came, and it brought new energy for Love and the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers were young, fun, and good again, and Love looked like he was a new player coming off the bench, and he seemed like he was having fun being able to play basketball again.
The 2022 season came, and the Cleveland Cavaliers traded for Utah Jazz star Donavan Mitchell and that had to bring pep into Love’s step. The Cavaliers were dedicated to winning again, and Love showed that he would do anything to win for this team. Love is averaging 20 minutes a night and 12.1 points per game so far in the 2022 season, but most of all, he is the veteran in the locker room with a bunch of young guys, and Love is showing them the ways.
Love is pleased to be able to be the old head in the room and be the voice for the players. At one point, it seemed like Love and the Cavaliers would never be able to win again, but the times have changed, and if it weren’t for Love, this team would not be in its current position.
Leave a Reply
NEO Sports Insiders Newsletter
Sign up to receive our NEOSI newsletter, and keep up to date with all the latest Cleveland sports news.
Pingback: Clippers clamp down on Cavs late, win 119-117