The Cavaliers were hard on Kevin Love his first year in Cleveland.
The most glaring example: LeBron James subtweeting Love:
Stop trying to find a way to FIT-OUT and just FIT-IN. Be apart of something special! Just my thoughts
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 8, 2015
Love, in a Q&A with Jason Lloyd of The Athletic:
I didn’t plan to go here, but the whole fit in/fit out thing from your first year with LeBron. Was he right?
I think on one end it was extremely passive-aggressive and silly. But at the same time, I feel like I did have to find my way and fit in. But it wasn’t an easy process for me. I think right now if that happened — it wouldn’t because I believe who I am now and the growth I’ve had — but I truly believe that you have to understand. That’s why I never make assumptions. We’ve talked before about “The Four Agreements,” right? Never make assumptions, never take anything personally. Well, obviously I took that personally. I wish I could’ve handed them that book and been like, “Listen, you’ve got to understand what it was like to be the main focus, 20 shots a night, be ‘the guy.’” My star dimmed a little bit to have to sacrifice. So at least just acknowledge it. All I wanted was a little bit of love. All I wanted was (a pat on the back, an arm around the shoulder). I never got that. I think I just wanted a little bit of love. Not even notoriety, just an acknowledgment of, “Hey, listen, we know that you’re sacrificing.” That was not there the first year. I think Champ (James Jones) helped me to understand, “Listen, just be yourself and everything else will fall into place.” But to really fully get there, it took me a year and some change.
Who’s them? When you say, “I wish I could’ve handed them that book,” who are you referring to?
Teammates and coaches. I think you can put that together. I would just ask them to consider me. Now looking back, I just feel like it was all a very, very good learning process and an indicator of growth. I look at Bron like a [f—ing] brother. Still. We’re on the group chat with six other guys every other day, every few days.
It’s amazing Love is speaking this way publicly about LeBron now. Few players are that secure.
But Love got his championship and huge contract, and LeBron left the Cavs. Still in Cleveland, Love can say how he feels.
And Love is right. LeBron was passive-aggressive. After starring with the Timberwolves, Love needed to do more to fit in.
LeBron’s method was just unlikely to yield his desired outcome. Love wanted affirmation, not more drama.
To his credit, LeBron eventually realized how to connect with Love. Their poolside chat is part of Cavaliers lore. After that, Love re-signed with the Cavs, and they won the 2016 championship. That’s why Love an LeBron are still so close now.
But this wasn’t abnormal for LeBron. He’s sometimes passive-aggressive. It’s just something people around him must deal with, because he’s so good at basketball.