Love letter: Former Wolves forward says goodbye to Minnesota fans
Kevin Love would like to express his sincere gratitude.
Gratitude toward Minnesota fans for what he calls "six great years." Adulation to former Timberwolves coach Kevin McHale for helping him develop into the player he is today. Thanks to the folks at Manny's Steakhouse for preparing him a good meal from time to time. And a shout to local comedian Mike Brody for not burning his jersey.
Love spills all that and more in a first-person essay entitled "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" on a site called the Players' Tribune. In perhaps his most revealing account since sitting down with Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski in 2012 and expressing his displeasure with the Wolves franchise, the All-Star power forward said he never got to give the Land of 10,000 Lakes "a proper goodbye."
Instead, fans remember a 2013-14 season of impressive numbers and speculation that Love would choose not to exercise his player option for this year and force his way out of town. This summer, he did, eventually joining LeBron James in Cleveland via a trade that netted the Wolves Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young.
But Love will look back on his time in Minnesota fondly, he says.
"I still remember sitting in Madison Square Garden when I was first drafted in 2008, thinking that if I could go anywhere it would be to the Timberwolves to work with one of my childhood idols, Kevin McHale," Love wrote. "There are so many people in Minnesota who helped to shape my game and mold me into the player I am today. I'll always be fond of going to Manny's Steakhouse, and the support I got from the entire Minnesota community -- even in tough times -- is something I'll remember forever."
He also admits he may not have handled those adverse periods -- six seasons without making the playoffs, not receiving a max contract from former president of basketball operations David Kahn and owner Glen Taylor, injuries that sidelined him for most of the 2012-13 season -- with the most grace.
"I grew up a lot -- personally and professionally -- during my time with the Wolves," Love's article continues. "I'll be the first to tell you that I didn't always handle things perfectly. We are all unfinished products. It's not easy to handle the disappointment of losing when you're in your early twenties. There were times when I wasn't easy to be around in the locker room. It's hard to be a leader when you don't have the model -- and when you don't have a blueprint for what winning in the NBA looks like."
But Love says he sees it now, detailing the Cavaliers' plane ride to Rio de Janeiro for a preseason game against Miami in Brazil. Sitting and conversing with LeBron James and the gang, Love said, "felt like the first day of school."
"It was a culture that I'm not accustomed to," he wrote.
Indeed, Love was part of an organization that hasn't made the playoffs in 10 years and never won more than 40 games during his time in the Twin Cities. He's moved on to a club expecting to make the NBA Finals this season that features the best player in the world.
So naturally, things are going to seem a little different.
Love's letter concludes: "I've never played in a playoff game. I came to Cleveland because I want to win. I'll grab a broom and sweep the floors if it gets me an NBA title."
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