Bemoaning the Kevin Love Narrative

 (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

A double-double before halftime, Wolves leading, and 17 points in 24 minutes before leaving the game…yeah this guy sounds like the problem.

I’m annoyed. Maybe I shouldn’t let things like sports affect me this much, but some things are so flat-out dumb that it’s hard not to be aggravated by them. Of course, I’m talking about the false Kevin Love diatribe that began as soon as Love went out and his teammates stepped up to seal the victory Thursday night in Denver. I knew it was coming, and so did everyone else, but there was nothing we could do to stop it. Keep in mind I’m not addressing everyone in the space below, but you know who you are, and you need to stop it.

Of course, this stems from the Yahoo! article with Adrian Wojnarowski where fans took exception to Love’s remarks about the team, and his future with them. You know what? I think the way he went about vocalizing them was counterproductive, but the things he said weren’t necessarily wrong. Apparently he made some positive comments that didn’t make the cut, allegedly; whether you believe that or not is up to you.

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You’re young, talented, and you’ve just had success at every level, but come into a situation like Love did with the Timberwolves, and have to deal with losing for the first time ever. Kevin McHale, the person in the organization who brought him in and very high on him, was let go the following year, and was replaced with someone who is apparently still open to moving him no matter what he does. But, it’s still just Love’s fault that he feels undervalued by the organization, not because he probably is.

And using age isn’t an excuse, but an explanation. Maybe it’s being the same age as Love (He’s about three weeks older than myself, actually) that makes me able to understand where he’s coming from. I know that I may not be as immature as I was at 20, but I know I’m not as mature as I’ll be when I’m 28, 32, and so on. But I would also love it if he would forget about bitching about a no-call and get back on defense a little more like many of you.

(Ugh, did he have to stay in the trainer’s room and skip the media availability? Such a bad look right now.)

Don’t let this cloud the fact that Kevin Love is the Timberwolves’ best player, and they would not be a better team if they traded him. Kevin Love is in fact an All-Star, and a max player. I mean, good Lord, he had 17 rebounds in 24 minutes against the league’s best rebounding team and all certain people wanted to do was talk about how much better off the team would be without him.

What is wrong with people? I don’t understand how that’s a logical thought process. Of course, fandom is like that, but I’m a fan at heart and still know how to use common sense once in a while.

Love’s comments were made about a team that, as I mentioned before, has tried to move him for most of his career, and one that many people didn’t really give a crap about until the last couple of years, who are also the same calling for Love’s head. Oh, this team would be better off without Love? If you say so, you don’t remember the pre-Love days of Randy Wittman, or even those horrendous Kurt Rambis teams. For those of us who sat in crowds of just about 5,000 it’s much easier for us to appreciate what Love brings.

Honestly, if your Timberwolves jersey collection goes straight from Garnett to Rubio, you shouldn’t get a say in the debate, because you’re just far too uninformed to take part in an educated and rational discussion. Are there really people so dense that they want to run the second-best player in franchise history out of town  because he wants to be on a successful team and be paid his worth? Love wants the team to prove that they want him and that they’re committed to winning, which is what we all want anyway. And while they’ve worked towards that, they still do have a ways to prove that they can build a winner long-term to everybody since they haven’t done that in nearly a decade.

Admittedly, sports-to-life comparisons are usually flawed, but watch this: Would you want to work for a less-successful company, be underpaid and undervalued all at the same time? Worse yet, how would it feel to watch your other talented peers have great successes elsewhere, in better situations? I’m not sure anyone would sign up for that, and if Love’s comments are what it takes to motivate the Timberwolves to finally put together a consistent winner, then so be it. This isn’t to be confused with being held hostage by your star player, and that is not the case here.

To take my comparison above even further, what if you had no ties to the city in which you worked in? For me, that would make it easier to get up and leave for greener pastures, especially if I had no roots. As for Love, who grew up and went to school out west, Minneapolis isn’t exactly reminiscent of home, but he has said many times that he likes it here and wants to stay. Yet, I can’t help you if you only want to hear the negative remarks and not the positive; you’re on your own then.

It’s also certainly not personal if a player says he doesn’t want to stay in the city you grew up in forever and ever, and put up with s— along the way just for the sake of it. There really aren’t many people that have time for that; life is too short for that, and NBA careers are even shorter. Don’t ever forget this is a business first, and that business operates both ways. And believe it or not it’s not every kid’s dream to grow up and play for your favorite team, or favorite team when they’re winning.

If you need a pretty good barometer of how everyone else views Love’s place in the league, you should have seen my Twitter timeline as soon as the anti-Love sentiment began to rear it’s ugly head once again. It should absolutely tell you something when smart and knowledgeable people in the know, and fans of other teams alike tell you you’re under-appreciating your franchise player. Believe me, fans of other teams told me this should’ve been a much harsher post and that the fans who believe that Love is the problem are [bleeping] idiots and crazy, but I have an editor and this is a family blog, so I’m keeping it tame. At the same time, it’s that perfect blend of Minnesota sports fan fairweather-homerism that makes it difficult for people nationwide to understand why it’s so easy for many of us to turn on the players that are actually good, but become enamored with far less-talented players that are quirky.

 

Don’t forget what Love is to this franchise. He’s one of the reasons anyone nationally gives a damn about this team and one of the few pros for free agents considering spending their winter in Minnesota, and the Timberwolves need that. For now, Love still wants to be here, but that’s not going to hold up if this vitriol towards him continues.  Or not, and you people can just go back to making mindless “KAAAAAAAAAAAAAHN” jokes.

Of course, if you’re sane and try to remind people that dealing with things like the flu and a broken hand will affect your conditioning and performance, you’re an excuse making apologist. To the people who want to spend all game calling Love a “crybaby”, you really can’t win. Whether you like it or not, this is the toughest season of his career. The first time you have to really deal with consecutive injuries and ailments only adds to the frustration, the seemingly bad body language, and energy. If you think I’m making excuses I can’t change your mind, but I assure you you’re not. Love’s health has been his livelihood, and he’s trying to play pro basketball at a high level despite not being 100%, which I’m guessing isn’t easy. Just a guess, though.

Kevin Love is not solely responsible for the team’s poor shooting, nor the injuries and seemingly constant setbacks to the rest of the roster. While the season has been less than what we thought it would be, there’s still time for Love, and everyone else to turn it around. Getting healthy will be a big part of that, and in the mean time we have to deal with the more frustrating moments of the season. However, you can’t put it all on Love.

About Derek James

In addition to writing for Howlin' T-Wolf, Derek James writes about basketball Hardwood Paroxysm in the ESPN TrueHoop Network and covers the Charlotte Bobcats for SB Nation’s Rufus on Fire. Andray Blatche and Isaiah Rider follow him on Twitter.

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