Kevin Love is going to miss the rest of the playoffs due to a separated shoulder injury he suffered at the hands of Boston’s Kelly Olynyk, and shortly after it occurred, Love wasn’t shy in saying he believed Olynyk did it on purpose.
“I thought it was a bush-league play,” Love said. “… I have no doubt in my mind that he did it on purpose.”
It’s clear from watching the video that Olynyk did something on purpose, but as far as having an intent to injure, only he knows whether or not that was the case.
Celtics GM Danny Ainge defended his player, and also believes that Olynyk didn’t have any malicious intent. But he also downplayed Love’s accusatory comments.
“I think that that’s a little bit over the top,” Ainge said of Love’s comments. “It’s understandable in the heat of the battle. I feel bad for Kevin Love because he’s waited a long time to get where their team is right now, and now he doesn’t get a chance to play. But I certainly don’t think that Kelly did it on purpose.” …
“I don’t even think that that play would have been reviewed more than a foul had Kevin not gotten hurt,” Ainge said. “But because Kevin did get hurt, the league does evaluate those situations, and I understand a little bit why they did it.
“There was a lot of pressure on Cleveland. They were losing J.R. Smith in the first couple of games of the next round, and they have Kevin out for the playoffs now. So I’m sure there was a lot of frustration in Cleveland and they wanted some justice, and they scrutinized it and felt like Kelly gave a little bit too much at the very end of that arm tangling.
“When someone gets hurt, you’re just under a little bit more scrutiny. But I thought it was just a foul — two guys going for a loose ball.”
My personal opinion is that this is a ridiculous statement by Ainge, and one that’s borderline offensive.
Only Love and Olynyk know exactly what went down on that play, no matter how many times we see it replayed. There was certainly an extra tug by Olynyk that caused Love’s injury, and the only thing even remotely up for debate is whether or not that extra pull by Olynyk was intentional.
It’s likely that it was — maybe not as an attempt to injure Love, but certainly to keep him from getting to the loose ball in that situation.
Love is out for the remainder of the playoffs, during a season where the Cavaliers had (and might still have) a legitimate shot of making it to the Finals. He has a right to be upset, and discounting his remarks from afar as being overly-dramatic is not a good look for an opposing team’s front office.