Kevin Love is tall and lean and, standing on the podium and holding up a Cavaliers jersey number 0, he is even taller. It’s kind of weird sitting in the press conference and watching him in a three piece suit walking to the front of a group of writers and reporters and a cadre of rolling cameras, to think of the impact that Love is about to have on the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise and on Cleveland sports.
It’s a wild scene and cameras are snapping and there is a palatable reverberation through the room. Kevin Love is a Cavalier. Kevin Love explains how he was recruited by Lebron James the day after Lebron James announced his decision to stay in Cleveland, that it was the first call that James made. He explains that he agreed with James and was “in” with coming to Cleveland.
That’s how it happened. Just incredible coincidence.
Lebron James, who is from the Cleveland area, just happened to want to return to the Cleveland area and signed with the Cavaliers. Kevin Love, who just happened to be coming upon the opt out at the end of next season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, was the first phone call. Kyrie Irving, who just happened to be in a national television campaign with Kevin Love a year ago, had just re-signed to stay with the Cavaliers.
Love and Griffin both acknowledge the fact that this is a best case scenario for the Cavaliers franchise, who has endured four straight seasons of historically terrible basketball. That’s been rehashed over and over for the last month and half as the rumors of Kevin Love becoming a Cavalier gained momentum. Every day has been a great day, a historic day, in Cavaliers history. Over the last 60 days, we may well have witnessed the formation of the greatest Cavaliers team in the history of the franchise.
It is incredible to consider that there are under 500 to 700 individuals capable of playing basketball at an NBA level. There are perhaps 250 to 300 in the age range of Love, who is currently 25 years old. Out of those, Love described having a relationship with Kyrie Irving (and, Uncle Drew, Irving’s older alter ego), and Dion Waiters, who, according to Love today, was somehow working out in Los Angeles with Love prior to the James’ decision to become a Cavalier and his fateful call to Love.
Interestingly, Love already feels tied to the Cavaliers. Love’s choice of the jersey number “0” revealed a number of interesting connections.
Love wore number 42 in Minnesota. The number 42 is retired by the Cavaliers to honor Miracle legend player Nate Thurmond. Thurmond recently appeared on a local Cleveland radio show to promote the Ben Thurmond Seventh Annual Golf Outing, a benefit to raise money for Cleveland Clinic Hospice services, which took place on August 22. During the interview Thurmond was asked by a radio host if he would agree to “unretire” his number for Love. Thurmond seemed unprepared to be asked a question like this, but seemed open to the idea, out of respect for the Cavaliers, should Love call him.
Love, in a showing of true respect, mentioned Nate Thurmond at the press conference. Then he mentioned the retired number 11 of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, then he mentioned the retired number 7 of Bingo Smith. Love’s first three choices for numbers were all retired by the Cavaliers:
“All respect to Nate Thurmond, I really appreciate him, pay homage to him, having the conversation of allowing me to wear No. 42. This was an opportunity to start fresh and choose a number that would suit me. Then I looked at No. 11, my Olympic number, [Cavs] had that number retired. Third one I was going to pick was No. 7 because my mom had that as my lucky number growing up. 7 was taken by Smith. So I went all the way back to my grassroots. My first number I ever played with, I remember showing up to a game in Beaverton ,Oregon, with a brand new inner-city team I was supposed to play with. I was the last guy to the guy for the tournament. There was the zero for me.”
One last point that can’t be ignored. There was ongoing use of words indicating that that Love’s intention was to stay multiple years, including specific reference to pursuing multiple titles, about the long term future of the team, which indicated Love’s intentions. It has been rumored that Love had already agreed to a long term contract with the Cavaliers, despite that any such agreement would violate league rules. It was also rumored that the existence of such an agreement, should it be proven, would possibly nix the Love trade and that the league was closely monitoring the situation.
Love was savvy enough to squash the rumors, answering the second question of the press conference about how long he was planning on staying, saying simply “That is something that hasn’t been talked about.”
All photos taken by me.