National Basketball Association

Kevin Love suggests 'The Block' is the greatest defensive play of all time – true or false?

April 25

Kevin Love is taking a dive into the past, reliving some of the best moments of his career – even the ones that didn't involve him.

On a recent episode of "Sports Seriously" on the USA TODAY Sports Network, the Cleveland Cavaliers forward took fans back to one of those memorable moments, this one from Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

You get one guess which moment Love is talking about.

The Cavaliers and the Warriors were tied at 89 with just under two minutes to go when Golden State got a two-on-one fastbreak, which ended with Andre Iguodala attempting the go-ahead layup. 

Enter LeBron James

"I just remember that split second when [J.R. Smith] went over the top just to create that little bit of space and that little bit of time to then allow LeBron to take off and pin that ball on the glass," Love said. "I had maybe a better shot and glance and angle at it than anybody else. Again, I think it's the greatest and most clutch block — and maybe defensive play — of all time.

"I know we had several plays in that game that were incredibly meaningful, but for that, there’s no telling how the game would have ended up if he didn’t have that miraculous play in a Game 7 on the road like that. It was just a truly special play from, you know, a guy that’s gonna go down in the history books as maybe the greatest player of all time."

The Warriors didn’t score another point, and the Cavs went on to win 93-89, securing Cleveland’s first NBA title. 

But the title talk isn't what piqued Skip Bayless' and Shannon Sharpe's interest during Love's interview. They too wanted to talk about "The Block," debating whether it is indeed the greatest defensive play of all time. 

On Friday’s "Undisputed," Sharpe sided with Love based on what was on the line in Game 7.

"There are only a handful of defensive plays that can rival this. ... How do I tell the story of the 2016 NBA Finals without this?"

Sharpe also pointed out that James scored 11 of Cleveland's 18 points in the fourth quarter. 

But to Bayless, the answer isn't so simple, and he was left pondering why Love felt the need to bring this up now.

"All you need to know is that Kevin Love’s NBA life was made by Kyrie [Irving] and, obviously, by LeBron James, so he was only relevant while LeBron was still back in Cleveland," he said. "So now he’s trying to be relevant again, fame by association, by trying to crown this as the greatest defensive play ever."

He also wasn't so sure how much skill was to credit, as opposed to luck, on the play.

"It is a chase-down block. It is a blindside block," Bayless said. "It is a sneak attack by a player in LeBron James who simply should be awarded for his hustle on the play. I will give you he hustled all the way through, but he has been notorious for these sneak-attack blocks. They're not in-your-face blocks. He didn’t go right up head-to-head. … He was lucky he got there right on schedule." 

In the series, James averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.3 blocks on the way to winning Finals MVP, so there was certainly a healthy dose of skill involved.

But the play that will always be most memorable – for Love and the rest of the NBA world – is "The Block."

Luck or not, it has become legendary.

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