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Munch Musings from E. 53rd and Hamm Avenue: Kevin Love Tribute


If the greatest rock band ever sang the above words it must be true…or perhaps past tense.
Let’s start off this tribute to Kevin Love by returning to 2016 and the CAVALIERS come back from 3-1 to beat the Warriors and win the NBA Championship. I must say I have always been a Kevin Love fan and yes the same rabble that freed Barabbas and backed Johnny Manziel had KLOve in their cross hairs since day 1. I am not getting into heavy stats or numbers here, or ANALYTICS. Just as the nonsense of exit velo and launch angles have tainted the past time I will go with my Sam Rutigliano analytics – my brain, my eyes, my heart and my gut!
I shared a magical moment with my family at ESPN Cleveland as game 7 unfolded. JR Smith does not get mentioned enough as he was on fire to start the 3rd quarter and kept Golden State from running away with the game. Remember in most NBA games the first 6 minutes of the 3rd quarter is the most important part of the game.
Of course we (in #TheLAND at least!) will NEVER forget THE BLOCK, THE STOP and THE SHOT…words embedded in the lexicon of Cleveland sports lore. It was a glorious evening and as the clock ticked to 0:00 and not a second before I launched myself into the arms of 3 time Super Bowl Champ Jerod Cherry.
Then I was off to cover the controlled mayhem in the streets of downtown Cleveland. I take pride that this was my assignment as my people were celebrating! I immediately made my way to THE Q as the Gateway complex was ground zero for the celebration. People just wanted to celebrate and have fun. If there exists an event that may be labelled “Controlled Anarchy” (an oxymoron in its own right) then the celebration was exactly that. I will never forget 4 male Cavs fans in their 20’s running up to me at Euclid and E. 4th saying “Dude report on this, we always wanted to lay down in the middle of Euclid Avenue so they did!” After a few hours I made my way back to the Galleria as I would be anchoring the morning show at 4am and I was hoping to get an hour of sleep in one of the easy chairs at WKNR.
After an hour I woke up to 2 of the youngsters on our team (Michael Bloomberg and Eric Williams) who were just staring at me saying “we did it”, “we’re champions” and I thought how cool would it be to be 21 and have one of your teams be the CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD!!
I wrapped up the show at 9am and knew there would be a few more duties until the show that evening at 7pm so I strolled to the Galleria food court to get some type of espresso drink (a Latte was always my preference). After I secured my caffeine, a gent called out to me who I did not know. I am always humbled and honored when this happens. C’mon…I’m just a kid from Slavic Village and Lee – Harvard. We bro hugged and as we are shaking hands, unsolicited, this person says unsolicited after we talked about the CAVALIERS Championship, “just think how much better the team would be if we did not trade for Kevin Love.” Now remember, I am going on 1 hour sleep, and was not sure whether to clock this sucka, walk away or say something condescending. I walked away hoping this man never has kids and thought “the rabble has reared its ugly head again!’ How much better can the CAVS be, they just won the NBA Championship and guess what, they DO NOT WIN IT without Kevin Love.
Then and there I knew he just could not win with so many in this city. I started thinking about some sports radio vets tainting the airwaves with ridiculous statements like “Love is weak” when all I saw was him leading the team in rebounds in 2016, banging in the paint and he’s weak? Again he could not win no matter what the numbers said.
Wanna talk about a  basketball Michelangelo? How about Love getting a board, kicking that outlet from a chest pass or a pass from above his head to LeBron for an easy transition basket? More beauty was Kevin catching the ball, head faking, dribbling once to his right or then burying a THREE!  Still, he was always the problem.
Yes there was some pouting, injuries and missing games but he was the whipping boy from the day he was acquired. Did he “help” some of his detractors? Yes he did. Did he have the courage to share his Mental Health issues? Yes he did. Similar to the role James Jones aka THE CHAMP played especially in 2016, Love provided that aspect of help and coaching as only an All Star player can provide. When LeBron and JR Smith among others needed some guidance or calming down, James Jones was there to impart wisdom. Same for Kevin especially this year and I will add that his guidance and knowledge for others cost the team more than Jone’s contributions but at what price does a team put on winning a championship.
Here’s hoping this move does not backfire. His playoff experience plus rebounding and hitting three’s is something you do not find every day. Hopefully the team did not overthink this. Is this all bogus analytics affecting the Cavs? A mistake by JB? No doubt Kevin felt disrespected as Dean Wade is not the “second coming!” One thing is certain, the team did one thing they desperately tried not to do…upset the locker room chemistry.
No doubt we have heard it all when word came down Kevin would be leaving…”did he pout again about lack of PT,” who did he upset in the front office? All I know is this – Kevin Love has been the biggest cheerleader for this young team on and off the court AND had plenty of hoops acumen to pass on and share! More than one player has expressed their disappointment that he is no longer a Cavalier. Hopefully Danny Green can help fill some of this role.
Some day Kevin’s jersey number “O” will be hanging from the ceiling of Rocket Mortgage Field House with LeBron’s and sooner than both of those jerseys let’s put World B. Free’s in its rightful place. I am laughing inside that some of you are seething when you read this due to an unfounded dislike for a good man and All Star player. Go ahead, make excuses for a QB who has abused women and at THE BEST is a creep. REMEMBER, NO KEVIN LOVE, NO NBA CHAMPIONSHIP!
Hope to see you soon. Until then enjoy every sandwich and give yourself fully to the adventure of every day. Adios amigo…long may you run!
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. David Smith

    February 24, 2023 at 10:39 am

    Thank you sir! This was a team of guys who came together and had that magical time together that no Cleve. Fan will never forget. But ! It was all the gifted players on that team.. And love was one of those players! You could feature any one of those guys on a high lite reel and just shake your head! We too soon forget! Too soon

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