After years of seeing his season end at just 82 games, Kevin Love may finally find himself playing meaningful spring basketball for once. Finally on a team that doesn't just have playoff dreams but championship expectations, he could help push the city of Cleveland to a level of glory that's been eluding it for nearly half a century. Love also has the luxury of shouldering less of the load, with big names like Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and a not-to-be-slept-on Dion Waiters on the same team.
First, though, the Cavs had to work out some kinks. After losing to the Knicks—the Knicks—in their season opener, the Cavaliers had to fight to stay above .500 and away from the scrutiny of the excitable sports media. Yet, only a month and change later, those days already seem long gone as the squad is in the midst of an eight-game winning streak that has left them atop the Central Division. Love is also currently in the middle of spreading holiday cheer through DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation’s #HolidayHoops campaign, which aims to donate 100 Lifetime hoops to organizations in need. In fact he'd just hooked up 200 students Scranton Elementary School with two hoops right before the interview.
But over the phone, Love sounds more like a man in a misty Swedish spa wearing a new purple robe than someone stressed from a busy schedule. That's fair enough: By moving away from the waters of Lake Minnetonka, Love finally has a chance to absorb the spotlight that's been evading him for his professional career. In our short conversation, we talked about that transition, playing with two of the most Vine-able stars in the game, and if Los Angeles is in his future (hint: the answer is yes).
Interview by Brian Josephs (@Bklyn_Rock)
So what got you interested in #HolidayHoops?
I thought it was an opportunity to spread the love and showcase how you can impact the community through small acts of kindness. We just donated what I guess was the first two of 100 hoops that we’ll donate throughout the holiday season. It was fun to see the looks on the kids' faces.
Does doing programs like this get you better connected to Cleveland, especially after just leaving Minnesota?
I think the local city that you’re playing in–it’s always great to have an impact off the floor and everything in the community. This the first big event I’ve done and what better way to bring people together than through sport and through basketball? It’s a great event that I’m proud to be a part of.
Tell us what the transition has been like since the season is now fully underway.
My wardrobe has stayed pretty much the same: the big jackets and all the things that I wore from Minnesota to Cleveland. So it hasn’t been too hard. I’m pretty much a homebody, so as long as I have my HBO Go, my Netflix and my Apple TV I’m good. So it has been pretty easy.
The downtown here is pretty great–next to the arena. So in relation to where I play, it’s super easy and convenient. The practice facility is very close as well. The coaching staff is fun to be around, and I enjoy going to work every day. So as far as all of that goes, it’s awesome. During the first 3-4 months of the season, I’m still new to city. I’m figuring it out as best as I can.
I guess having Game of Thrones on-demand does make life easier for anybody.
It definitely does. I’ve watched that and True Detective, The Wire. A lot of plane rides are spent watching various shows as well. Plus, I’m a homebody, so it’s useful.
So how have you been going through the season with all the surrounding hype? You did get attention in Minnesota, but this feels like another level with LeBron James and Kyrie Irivng.
It’s microscopic and everybody knows that. Every move we make or couple games we lose in a row, it’s the end of the world. Couple games we win in a row and people will anoint us champions. Sometimes we have to live with it and play game-by-game...play in the present.
We have different players who have been here a long time, like [Anderson Varejao], and players with experience like Shawn Marion, Mike Miller, James Jones...guys who have won championships and are able to help out the younger guys that we have on this team. It just makes for great cohesiveness and continuity up and down the floor.
You guys are a little over .500. Do you feel the higher expectations bearing down with this struggle?
There are a few games here and there that we felt that we could’ve won. Early on the in the season, we’ve been playing guys who could do so many things and it’s going to take time to grow into playing our brand of basketball and learning how to play together. There were some games I felt we should’ve won, but by game 40, 50, 60, I feel like we’ll be able to execute and win those games in the fourth quarter. It’s understanding our teammates, our spacing on both ends of the floor, and being able to communicate out there. I feel like once we do that we’ll be a better team. There’s gonna be high expectations, but we want to be able to go out there an attain them.
What’s it like sharing space with Irving and James? Do you trade advice in the locker room?
There’s a lot of banter back and forth. A lot of it is very light, very free-flowing. Those guys are very easy to get along with. But when it gets down to business, they’re ready to go. They’re gritty and they want to win basketball games. We all come from different walks of life on the entire team, but we’re all really able to get along well. This is the closest I’ve been to a team since college.
Would you consider going to L.A.?
I always tell everybody, ‘Yeah, I’m going to L.A., but that will be for the offseason.’ That’s where I spend my summers. I plan on being a Cavalier long term. I’m going to be with the organization for a very long time. I expect it and plan on it.