'Minnesota' Kevin Love is not walking through that door

Five-time All-Star says 'selfish tendencies' are in the past

Alex Hooper
October 15, 2018 - 2:39 pm

Ben Fontana-92.3 The Fan

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Independence, OH (92.3 The Fan) – ‘Minnesota Kevin Love’ is not walking through that door. That may be a good thing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The five-time All-Star has never been the focal point since being dealt to the Cavaliers in 2014, nor has he ever had to be the unquestioned leader in the locker room. Those things both changed when LeBron James departed for Los Angeles in the summer.

Love has also changed. Calls for the power forward to be the alpha dog that he was as a member of the Timberwolves have made his way back to the 30-year-old. He says that player is no longer around.

“There was, not in a lot of cases, but in some cases, just looking back admitting who I was and who I am now, having some bad habits that were selfish,” Love said Monday. “I had some selfish tendencies. Some were to help the team, some were to try and reach the certain new heights that maybe didn’t help the team.”

Facilitating will be more the name of the game, something Love says he looks forward to with the Cavs’ sum-of-the-parts approach to their new-look roster. The forward produced back-to-back 9.8 assist% seasons in his last two years with LeBron in tow, the lowest two seasons since his rookie season in 2008-08.

His career-high in assist-rate came in his final year in Minnesota, 21.4%, something which Love attributed to a slowing of a revolving door of philosophies in the organization.

Even if he replicates a 20-plus% assist rate, Love’s greatest impact on the floor will have to come from his offense. Even at his age and stature, one of the game’s best players still needs coaching and motivation.

Love told a reporter that Head Coach Tyronn Lue believes he is a better player when acting like ‘an A-Hole.’ While Lue disputed the exact language used, he corroborated Love’s point.

“When he plays mad, and when he plays like he’s the best player on the floor – sometimes you do have to piss him off a little bit to get under his skin,” Lue said. “He’ll do some great things. He’ll look at the bench and cuss you out and talk stuff back, so that’s Kevin at his best. We’ll see if we can get that early this year.”

Personal and professional growth are the norm as one matures, but Love’s organizational role took a quantum leap alongside his five-year, $113 million extension. That jump is one that he has essentially been groomed for ever since winning a championship became an expectation each year.

Yet no one is truly prepared until they have a plan. Perhaps without a fully-developed plan, Love at the very least has an approach. All of his experience being a fish out of water in Cleveland taught Love that a struggle generally increases output with time.

“Something that always got the best out of me was maybe asking for something out of my comfort zone, or asking to sacrifice, and letting those guys surprise you with their results,” he said. “I think that’s super key. That kind of transcends any organization or business or walk of life. That’s always kind of giving, trying to reach above what you maybe apply or see as your ceiling, and let all guys or certain guys on the team get out of their comfort zone, surprise you.”