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NBA Playoffs 2015: What's at stake for Kevin Love

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin, you were the straw that the media grasped for as they struggled to poke holes in what looked like an emerging Eastern juggernaut.  You apparently were being misused by an offense that sometimes imitates a Groupon, dropping three quarters worth of points in a mere two.  What more do people want?   In a league obsessed with the "stretch four" it was for some reason considered crime to use you as one.  Your predecessor warned you it would be different playing next to LeBron. In some ways Bosh was really warning us all. We were going to see a new Kevin Love.  Apparently it is more fun to act surprised.


One of Fear the Swords' writers more or less asked you just that. You pretty much said "yes".  It still wasn't enough for the world.  You said Westbrook was the MVP.  He's your college bud.  LeBron has an affinity for old friends; he should understand.  Mike and Mike asked you approximately eighteen billion different ways on your current state of happiness with the Cavaliers.  You didn't give them any real fuel, but ESPN managed to create a fire nonetheless.

You sat in the fourth quarter on a few different occasions.  The most publicized occurrence was when you watched, mostly, from the bench as Kyrie Irving transcended the previous realities of basketball and hung fifty-seven points on a Gregg Popovich-coached team. Of course you were struggling with back issues through the affair and it made sense for you to not play heavy minutes down the stretch, but let's not allow reality to get in the way of some juicy melodrama.

Putting all the noise aside, the real question is this:  Kevin, do you want to win? Would you really mop the floors like you said or was that some metaphor for grabbing every rebound in sight?  I'm sure you missed being "the guy" early on.  When the Cavs were sitting 19-20 and you weren't seeing the ball as much as you were in Minnesota and maybe you thought you should do more.

But now, what about now?  Your team just runs through the opposition.  You've been struggling with a bad back, perhaps from carrying Minnesota's offense for the past couple years, and yet your team hasn't missed a beat.  They need you healthy to win a championship, but they didn't need you healthy just to get to the postseason.  That must be nice.  I'm not an NBA player or anything, but it sure does seem nice to have a little help.

Still, I'm not you. I don't know what you want. I don't know if you want to be "the guy", if you want to play in LA, or if you just want to win no matter the role.  Maybe you don't even know. You've never won before.  Who knows if it is even really worth it to you?  Well, you, and we, are about to find out.

Athletes all say they want to win, but not everyone defines themselves by it.  Not everyone is Kobe or Jordan.  They are the far right of the competitiveness spectrum.  Everyone else lies somewhere to their left.  We can't all be born with an insatiable hunger for "W"s.  Throughout this postseason and headed into free agency we're going to find out where on that line you lie.  You're going not going to get games off like in the regular season.   You're going to play through aches. You're going to bang with the Bulls' bigs. You're going to be a bug that the media tries to fry with their playoff sized magnifying lens.  They want you to fail. Think of all the clicks to be had if you do.

Wait, you want to know what I think? I'm flattered.

I think it's taken some time, but you get it.  This team needs you.  Not like Minnesota needed you just to be competitive. This team needs you to win a championship.  I think my girlfriend is in love with you and I'm oddly okay with it.  I think the noise is mostly just that, noise.  I think you and LeBron are still feeling each other out as people and that is just part of the process.  You weren't besties like Bosh, Wade, and LeBron were when they decided to combine powers and assemble their own NBA version of Voltron.

I think as much as everyone is pushing theories on all the ways it can go bad for Kevin Love in the playoffs that it'll really be your time to shine. Time to put down all the doubts about you being unhappy in Cleveland, to shut up the folks who won't cease their clamoring over your role in the offense, and to finally strut your stuff on a stage befitting your talent instead of wallowing away in the irrelevance that was Minnesota.  I think this Big 3 has more potential than the Miami vintage.  Most importantly I think you'll help bring the Cavaliers their first championship,  if not this season then next.

I hope you agree.