The other day LeBron James posted a pic on Instagram with the quote “Clique Up!!” It featured LeBron, Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Kendrick Perkins, Timofey Mozgov and others.
Not Kevin Love.
And that added fuel to the “Love is going to bolt Cleveland” rumor firestorm, even though Love has denied that every step of the way. Monday on the Dan Patrick Show (broadcast on NBC Sports Network) Love said, “I plan on being a Cavalier either way.” Meaning he’s coming back next season whether or not the Cavs win the title.
Love was also on ESPN’s Mike and Mike radio show and said this about LeBron (via the Cleveland Plain Dealer):
“You know, we’re not best friends, we’re not hanging out every day, but we see each other every day, whether we’re at the practice facility, whether we’re on the road or going to a game,” Love said. “I think our relationship is also evolving. I could say the same with each and every coach, coach Blatt, and each and every player on the team. But, that’s part of the NBA.”
LeBron and Love are not taking selfies together? So what? (Actually, they were next to each other in another LeBron Instagram of a few weeks back. So does that mean all is right with the world?)
If they are professional, the rest doesn’t matter. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal won three titles together, and it took all of Phil Jackson’s Zen ways to keep them from strangling each other. They didn’t hit the clubs together. They still won.
Some guys need to feel loved and reassured to focus and play their best (think Dwight Howard). But sports has a long history of teams that won despite everyone not getting along in the locker room. Going all the way back to Ty Cobb at least.
Expect Kevin Love to stick with the Cavaliers this summer, for a couple reasons. One, he doesn’t want to be seen as a quitter who bolts a winning team. Second, he wants to be a free agent in 2016 when the cap goes up anyway. If he wants to leave, that’s the time to do it because teams will have the room for him and another max player, and he can team up.
Love is going through what Chris Bosh went through. He found his space in the offense and he found peace with it. We’ll see if Love gets to that same place with LeBron, but it’s going to play out over another season at the very least. Likely more.