Veteran Kevin Love has one championship ring and made four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals alongside LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but his enthusiasm for the game is currently at a peak level.
Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com looked at the early days of the Cavaliers’ training camp, noting the tight-knit connections between teammates and Love’s enthusiasm for the coming season.
“Veteran Kevin Love says he’s never had so much fun coming into work,” Fedor wrote. “Caris LeVert, who arrived in a midseason trade last year, says he was immediately welcomed with open arms — and those bonds with teammates have only strengthened since. Jarrett Allen senses an ‘excellent; feeling around the team heading into the season. [Donovan] Mitchell, who came from Utah — a place with older, more seasoned teammates — has been rejuvenated by Cleveland’s youthful exuberance and camaraderie. Mitchell is already using Cavaliers’ lingo, often verbalizing any of the five words, the organizational core values, at a moment’s notice.”
Love explained why he’s having so much fun.
“I think it’s just the temperament of this group,” Love said. “It’s one thing to say and it’s one thing to actually see it live here. More than anything, guys have a willingness to just listen, able to really communicate at a very high level. I think that all starts with J.B. [Bickerstaff] but trickles down through the coaching staff. I think we just have very, very high character people, let alone players, out here with us. I think we’ve gotten better every practice so far. I know it’s only a small sample size. But I think guys’ willingness to get better, to communicate and do the right thing is very high level so far.”
The 34-year-old Love could be in his final year with the Cavaliers, with his massive four-year deal worth $120 million coming to an end at the conclusion of the 2022-23 season. However, his excitement and ability to bond with his teammates could entice him to stick around if he and the Cavs can work out a new deal.
When Love was acquired in 2014, the trade took place after the team had acquired James in free agency. The duo of James and Love helped take the team to another level.
However, despite that on-court success, Love was frequently the subject of trade rumors and criticism. The latter attacks seemed to suggest that the Cavaliers would be more successful without him.
Yet, in a crucial situation in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Love’s harassing defense on Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry played a key role in the Cavs winning their first and only NBA title.
Despite that success, Love was plagued by mental health issues, which led to panic attacks and other related issues. Eventually, Love went public with his problems and has put a spotlight on mental health concerns since that time.
That improved mental focus proved to be important for Love during the 2018-19 season in which he played in only 22 games and a 2020-21 campaign in which he played in just 25 contests.
Injury woes have dogged Love for much of his career, but it seems clear that he’s embraced his role from last season as an option off the bench. That reduced role resulted in him playing 74 games last season, the first time he’s seen action in over 70 games in a season since the 2015-16 campaign.
There’s plenty of promise involving this year’s edition of the Cavaliers after injuries helped bring last season’s run to an abrupt end. Even though there are no guarantees of a deep playoff run, Love figures to revel in the excitement ahead.