Kevin Love played his first six NBA seasons with the Timberwolves, but made it clear to management that if they required him to stay for a seventh, it would be his last.
Love has the ability to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season, and let it be known that he wasn’t willing to re-sign in Minnesota. Rather than lose him for nothing in free agency, the team traded Love to the Cavaliers, and did pretty well for themselves in netting Andrew Wiggins in return as part of the package.
But Timberwolves fans were obviously less than thrilled with the fact that Love wanted out, and are more than likely to let him hear about it when the Cavaliers come to town on Saturday night — and Love is fully preparing for that possibility.
From Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com:
There is sure to be boos after he essentially forced his way out of the organization last summer. Love was gracious toward Timberwolves fans in an essay he wrote for The Players Tribune back in October, but the venom is likely to be high Saturday night. Love’s departure launched another full-blown rebuild in Minnesota, leaving the Timberwolves with the league’s worst record.
“Probably more (boos) than a mix of cheers,” said Love, who is used to vicious verbal attacks. “We’ll see. (Saturday) will be one of those times where they’ll have the chance to tell me how they really feel.”
Love’s Cavaliers teammate, LeBron James, can relate to returning to a former city and playing in a hostile environment.
“Obviously it won’t be the same as my experience,” James said. “But I can give him some insight. The most important thing is he has to lean on us. That’s what I did. I leaned on my teammates more than anything.” …
“When you go on the road and you’re returning to a place where they once loved you, they still love you,” James said. “I know that. You only get booed because they love you. It’s like a scorned woman. Sorry women. You break a woman’s heart or you hurt a woman, she still loves you, she’s just a little mad at you at the time. Kevin needs to lean on us and I know that. We’re going to be there to pick him up. But just play basketball. That’s what I did. I played basketball. My teammates allowed me to do that, my teammates helped me through it. It’s 48 minutes, a couple of hours and then you can move on.”
LeBron is right in that hurt feelings fuel the fans in these situations more than anything else, and with Love coming off of one of his best games of the season Friday — and with his Cavaliers riding a nine-game winning streak — focusing on the basketball part of it should make the return that much easier.