Let’s take a minute to discuss a dirty little not-so-secret that Minnesota’s fans have been trying to avoid talking about out loud for most of the season (though grumbling about it under their breath seems to be acceptable).
Kevin Love complains excessively to the refs, to the point where it’s detrimental to the Wolves.
Sometimes he has something resembling a legitimate gripe. But it becomes a problem when he spends so much time making exaggerated, pointed motions at the ref on one end that Minnesota’s overstretched defense, forced to play 5-4, gives up an easy basket on the other.
One such example happened toward the end of the first half against New York on Saturday. It started innocuously enough, with Rubio driving the lane and kicking the ball to a cutting Love, whose man, Jared Jeffries, wasn’t really paying attention. Love cut past him and headed towards the basket.
Tyson Chandler, however, wasn’t fooled and came over to help out. There appeared to be quite a bit of contact as Love attempted a contested layup and was knocked backward, but no foul was called. Love hit the deck as Chandler came up with the rebound and looked to outlet the ball. Note how much time is on the clock as Chandler attempts to outlet. (And for those of you with League Pass, note the choice of language Love uses on his way down. I chuckled.)
1:15 seconds. As Chandler outlets the ball, the Knicks begin a weird, half-hearted sort of fast break, 3 on 3 against the Wolves.
No sign of Love in this frame, but that’s ok. Pek hasn’t shown up yet. Neither has Tyson Chandler. Jared Jeffries is running along the far side, having just helped knock Kevin Love on his ass.
Rubio attempts to take a charge from Lin, and he fails. At this point, as you can see, there are four Knicks and four Wolves in the picture.
Here’s Tyson Chandler, the last Knick. (Sup, man?) Please notice the amount of time left on the clock. Also notice how Rubio’s flop has forced Luke Ridnour to cover both Iman Shumpert and Jared Jeffries while Lin plans his attack.
Lin drives into the lane, and since Ridnour is forced to cover Jeffries right beside the basket, Lin kicks the ball out to Shumpert, who spots up for three.
Oh hey, Kevin. Nice of you to join us. Note: it took Love eight seconds to get up and get back down the court with the rest of his teammates. He was three seconds behind the last Knick to arrive. These may not seem like excruciatingly long periods of time, but at game speed, it was an eternity.
Shumpert’s three misses, but since Love just arrived on the scene, everyone’s assignment for boxing out is totally screwed up. Lin comes away with the rebound while Rubio gets swallowed up by Love’s man, Jared Jeffries.
Since Lin got the rebound and Rubio is stuck with Jeffries, Love is forced to come out and try to guard Lin. Lin (predictably) drives by Love with ease and scores an easy layup.
For those of you keeping track at home, the three that Shumpert missed let Love off the hook briefly, but the botched rebound is also pretty obviously his fault. This may seem relatively insignificant, since the Wolves only ended up giving away two points on the play, but as you may recall, the final score of the game was 100-98. I’m not saying the Wolves lost because of this one play, I’m just saying that this theme of Love complaining to the officials while his teammates try to pick up the slack on defense is pretty clearly detrimental.
Yes, Kevin Love is a star now, and he probably deserved to start this year in the All-Star game (although in a game based on popularity, he was never going to beat out Griffin for the starter’s job. Sorry, bud). For the most part, he certainly has been a joy to watch and cheer for this year; it’s not every year one gets to watch their franchise player throw up 30-20’s and barely blink.
But this particular habit really needs to stop. He’s better than this.