It was Glen Taylor’s turn Tuesday afternoon. Taylor, the owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, took out his knives in an attempt to slash Kevin Love to bits. He skipped over the cruelty part ala Dan Gilbert, so there was that. But he made his point about Kevin Love’s imperfections.
“He got away with some stuff, not playing defense on our team. I’m not sure how that’s going to work in Cleveland. So I would guess they’re going to ask him to play more defense. And he’s foul prone.”
It’s en vogue now for NBA owners to target their scorn and in this case Taylor didn’t reinvent the wheel. Kevin Love is a terrible defender, the worst in the league at denying shots at the rim. Part of it is effort, part is athleticism that Love tries to overshadow with his manic rebounding. But there will be no trapping the pick and roll and then rotating to the paint as was the case with Chris Bosh. Gritty defense is out of the question.
When Taylor said “I’m not sure how that’s going to work in Cleveland” he brought up a bigger issue because for the first time in Kevin Love’s career every loss is going to be exaggerated, magnified and picked apart. Every win is going to be a shrug of the shoulders because the Cavs are supposed to win.
Love has never been in the middle of the national spotlight the way he is going to be for the next eight months. When Lebron James told him to be ready to play in June he should have also told him to be ready to be castrated. All of Kevin Love’s flaws and imperfections will be on center stage on a nightly basis, heavily scrutinized and mocked. There is no way to prepare for it; it’s like a thousand paper cuts, bleeding happens and you just have to deal with it.
Sports Illustrated writer Chris Ballard wrote an engaging and illuminating piece on Kobe Bryant as Ballard traveled with him throughout China. Some material that did not make the piece Twilight, the Saga Ballard made available as an addendum on Twitter. In a conversation about teammates Kobe said, “If you go back and look at guys I’ve gotten along with they’re all cut from the same cloth. All of them.”
Who knew Darius Morris, former Laker, current NBA journeyman would be one of them. Morris recently said this on Instagram: “Honestly I can say he was one of the best [teammates] I had on and off the court. He schooled me in the business and lifestyle of the NBA. He was never negative or talked down to anybody and I was there when [he went through] some tough times but he went out of his way to be helpful towards me, push me to think big picture in life and to have mental toughness to remain [focused] and never be satisfied.”
Chris Ballard also asked Kobe about players he thought maxed out their talent and gifts. Of course he mentioned Lebron James and Kevin Durant. He gave a shout out to Steve Nash. And then he mentioned Memphis Grizzlies guard/defender Tony Allen. Kobe said he’s “a big favorite of mine.”
Ballard contacted Tony Allen who was honored that Kobe thought so highly of him and this is what Allen had to say about the Lakers superstar. “He’s the closest thing to Michael Jordan in my era. Lots of people say this guy or that guy. Nah… I get to be able to live and tell the story that I got to guard that guy.”
During this past summer there were a lot of ‘Doc Rivers may quit’ false rumors because of the Donald Sterling fiasco that wouldn’t end. Now that Sterling is out the picture Doc can concentrate on his career. He signed a 5 year extension and he’ll make $10 million dollars a year. It’s been an amazing turnaround these past eight years for Glenn “Doc” Rivers.
Beginning on January 7, 2007 and ending on February 11, 2007, Doc Rivers lost 18 games in a row as the Boston Celtics head coach. Celtics sycophants like Bill Simmons of ESPN had begged for a year for his firing despite his Coach of the Year credentials. (Doc coached a below average Orlando Magic team and nearly took them to the playoffs in 2000.) That miserable year in Boston the team had planned to trade their star forward Paul Pierce when they didn’t get a top 3 lottery pick despite their second worst record in the NBA. Doc’s fate changed when the Celtics acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett through trades. They won a title that first year. Two years later they lost in 7 games to the Lakers, a loss Doc still grieves over, enough so he had to cover the Lakers banners.
Four years later not only did Doc keep the Clippers together throughout the Donald Sterling humiliation, he kept the emotional psyche of the marketing and sales staff from splintering into a thousand different directions. The front office staff were the soldiers in the Donald Sterling race war, beaten down from the daily fan abuse and outrage spewing over the telephone lines like garbage. All they could do was sit there and take it. Say- yes I know Mr. Sterling is a horrible human being, yes I know I cash his checks. They were blamed as a co-conspirator as they were the stand in for Sterling himself. It was tough to be hated.
Enter Doc and his unique talent of reconstruction and reconciliation and glue. He restored the dignity of the Clippers nine to fivers and basically he said- lean on me.
And now the Clippers are leaning on him to guide them to the Western Conference Finals, a place they have never been in their history. For his efforts and talents they are paying Doc Rivers like a king.