Kevin Love on criticism for Team USA selection: ‘In a way, I understand it’

Cavaliers big Kevin Love with Team USA before Tokyo Olympics
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images
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The United States men’s basketball roster for the Tokyo Olympics is comprised of 11 players who drew strong All-Star consideration or finished third for Defensive Player of the Year.

And Kevin Love.

Love’s inclusion has drawn harsh reaction.

Love:

In a way, I understand it, because I came off a season where I didn’t play that many games and wasn’t at the top of my game. I’m very vocal about that in the public, saying that I wasn’t where I wanted to be, mostly for my team, for my coaching staff and for the Cavs in general. So, for me to come here, I just feel like I have a lot to prove. But I feel that way coming into every season.

I thought it was a great opportunity for me to play high-level basketball and have that transition into this next season. But just competing for a gold medal, playing for USA, getting to wear this – there’s just nothing like it. So, being in this system has been incredible for me. And every time that I’ve come off a plane with this program and what it means to me and my career, it’s always been great for me. So, I thought this would be instrumental in getting me right and feeling healthy and going out and playing great basketball.

I can still be the player that I was before I had a couple tough injuries. This is the best I’ve felt in a long time.

Love had a miserable season with the Cavaliers. By merit, he doesn’t appear to deserve a spot on the Olympic roster. Love is a defensive liability, undermining whatever value he’d provide as a stretch big and outlet passer. Brook Lopez or Myles Turner would have been better choices for that role. Or the Americans could have selected someone at another position.

But that’s not Love’s fault. USA Basketball – run by managing director Jerry Colangelo and coach Gregg Popovich – chose the roster. Love didn’t force anyone to pick him.

At this point, hopefully Love gets the most out of the experience.

Still, it’s hard to share his optimism. Even if injuries set him back previously, those injuries and aging also sapped his athleticism. At 32, Love can’t simply revert to his prior form.

As Love said: He has a lot to prove.