NBA: Olympic bonding with LeBron helped Cavs land Love
CLEVELAND—Kevin Love’s camaraderie with LeBron James during their time as US gold medal team-mates at the 2012 London Olympics helped convince Love to join him on the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers.
The power forward obtained from the Minnesota Timberwolves in a three-team trade made his first public appearance with the Cavaliers on Tuesday, smiling as he posed for pictures with the new zero-numbered jersey he will wear when the season begins in late October.
“I’m very happy to be here. It means a lot to be part of this organization,” Love said. “I’m committed to this team long term and to the goal of winning a championship here.”
James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, returned to the Cavaliers last month after leaving Cleveland four years ago for Miami, where he led the Heat to two NBA titles.
However, last month he said he was leaving as a free agent to return to the Cavaliers.
“LeBron signed to come back and just a few hours after he called me and I said, ‘I’m in.’ That had a lot to do with my decision,” Love said.
“LeBron I really got to know at the London Olympics. That’s where the relationship was really forged,” Love said.
“LeBron is a guy that I’ve admired since he came into the league. I can’t say enough good things about him. I always admired the way he worked and I got to see that first hand (in London).”
Love, who turns 26 next month, averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds last season for Minnesota, and over six seasons with the Timberwolves averaged 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds a game.
“There will be a lot asked of me on the offensive end as well as the other end of the floor,” Love said. “There will be an adjustment from day one in practice, just getting to know the different players.”
Nate Thurmond offered to have his jersey number, 42, unretired by the team to allow Love to keep his Minnesota number, but Love declined and did not want to swipe other numbers from players, so he went with zero, the first number he had as a child.
“This was a chance to start fresh and allow me to make a change,” Love said. “I just decided zero was the right fit.”
Love looks forward to playing in his first NBA playoff game, a likely goal considering the Cavaliers went from 75-1 outsiders to 3-1 oddsmakers favorites for the NBA title once James made his move.
“It will be somewhat of an adjustment playing in the playoffs,” Love said. “LeBron and I have had conversations. Mentally I have to prepare myself for playing into June. I told him I was there. I’m excited, ready and optimistic for the opportunity.”