Kevin Love has had a whirlwind tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The UCLA product was traded to Cavs in 2014, with then-GM David Griffin wanting to team Love up with Kyrie Irving and former NBA head coach David Blatt.
Instead, the idea of a rise to playoffs was catapulted to Finals contenders status when LeBron James decided to sign with Cleveland as a free agent. The Big 3 guided the Cavs to a historic championship in 2016, bringing the Cavs back from a daunting 3-1 deficit to beat the 73-9 Warriors.
The Cavs would meet the Dubs two more times in the Finals, losing both, and the last without Irving, who requested a trade out of Cleveland and landed in Boston. Since then, Love has gone through some injury-plagued seasons, and at the same time, the Cavs struggled to remain relevant after James left Cleveland for a second time, missing the playoffs for three straight seasons.
The 2021-22 season offered some hope and reprieve for Love and the Cavs. Cleveland finished the regular season at 44-38, finishing eighth in the East thanks to a top 5 defensive team and the breakout seasons of Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and the excellent play of rookie big man Evan Mobley. Love also finished as the runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year award after averaging 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds.
However, the Cavs could not win either of their play-in games, losing to the Nets and then the Hawks, leaving them with a 10th place finish.
In his latest Instagram post, Love revealed just how gratifying the productive season was after the five-time All-Star prioritized making his body durable and buying into improving the culture around a young Cavs team that’s not close to their ceiling. The change in Love’s perspective allowed him to accept a new role as the first player off the bench so that Mobley and Allen could thrive like they did as well.
Love captioned his reflective post stating he wanted to ‘help lead a young team in taking the next step’ in their evolution while also striving to ‘be the vet I never had early in my career.’ He also emphasized just how necessary sacrifice was in order to help the team make a leap in their development. He went on to thank J.B. Bickerstaff for trusting him and being honest so that he could ‘be the best version of myself.’
The 2011 Most Improved Player then listed off his accomplishments of the season, leading bench players in double-doubles, breaking a franchise record for made three’s off the bench, leading the team in made triples, and tying the League leader in charges taken. Love also made sure to brag on his availability and leading the Cavs in games played, reiterating that he played every game this season except for eight after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Love also stated that he felt like a runner-up finish for 6Moty ‘meant something to me to earn my respect back in a League and game that I’ve dedicated my life to.’ He concluded his post by saying, ‘keep showing up. Remain hungry.
And fuck what THEY think.”