For two seasons, Kevin Love has had to accept a lesser role, which resulted in an NBA title.
Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue says that Love, a three-time All-Star, made the biggest sacrifice of any of the Big Three in Cleveland.
— Lee Jenkins (@SI_LeeJenkins) October 20, 2016
Love told management that he was willing to do whatever it took for a ring.
Playing power forward alongside LeBron James and another ball-dominant scorer is tricky enough at full strength. “It’s extremely difficult,” warned Chris Bosh, Miami’s third wheel, in a Bleacher Report story from 2014, “and extremely frustrating.” You don’t get the ball when you are accustomed, but more important, you don’t get it where you are accustomed. Love stood on the perimeter, spacing the floor as James and Kyrie Irving drove. “People tell you, ‘You’re going to have to change what you do,’” Love says, “but until you’re in it, you can’t really understand what that means. It’s a dose of humility.”
Love averaged 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds in his first two seasons with the Cavaliers, a respectable stat line on any roster but well short of the standard he set in Minnesota. Last December, he shot 37.3% from the floor, making it easier to bench him for defense and blame him for losses. “I don’t know how it happened, but he caught all the grief for everything, and it wasn’t fair,” says Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue, who succeeded David Blatt last January. “Guys like LeBron (James) and Kyrie (Irving), they have the ball in their hands, and the bigs take what they can get. Everybody sacrifices, but Kevin sacrificed the most.”
Cleveland general manager David Griffin did not want to move Love but understood if he wanted to leave, maybe for a place where he could be the sole superstar again. Griffin said as much in the trainers’ room at Quicken Loans Arena on Feb. 10, where Love was undergoing treatment for an injured shoulder while the Cavaliers played the Lakers. […] “I want to be a champion,” Love replied.