One of the confounding things about sports fans in this area is what athletes they seem to adore and who they want to make whipping boys when something goes wrong.
With the Indians, for example, Bryan Shaw is a guy who unless he is perfect draws the ire of the ticket buying public.
There are examples the other way too. Really, because this is a blue collar area, fans love the gritty, hard working player. Consider the admiration for Matthew Dellavedova during his tenure with the Cavaliers.
That brings us to perhaps the least respected all star athlete to wear a Cleveland uniform in a long, long time, Kevin Love.
When we were growing up, there weren’t many top notch professional players on the northeast Ohio sports scene. There were no LeBron James or Francisco Lindor. To have a player like Love would have been tremendous.
Love is a four time all star, a member of the US Olympic team, and was twice second team All-NBA.
He was a key member of the only NBA Championship this city has ever seen, and this year averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds per game, figures only three other NBA players matched in 2016-17.
Those three players? Try DeMarcus Cousins, Karl Anthony Towns, and Anthony Davis.
He has finished in the top ten in scoring twice and five times has ranked in the top ten in rebounding in the NBA.
Despite all of those accomplishments and accolades, the first player mentioned when talking about improving the Cavaliers going forward is Love, and we just don’t understand it.
One reason is always that Love doesn’t match up well with the team the Cavs faced the last three years in the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors.
In the first year of the trilogy, Love was out with a shoulder separation. Last year, he missed part of game two and all of game three with a concussion.
Healthy in game one last year, Love scored 17 points and had 13 rebounds, and in game five was +18 and in the title clincher, he was a +19 and snared 14 boards.
This past season, he was Cleveland’s best defensive player in the season by the metrics, and put together two 20 point games and three games of more than 10 rebounds, including 21 in the first game.
We still hear some fans saying David Griffin should have never traded Anthony Wiggins for Love, and the wine and gold would be better off with a one dimensional scorer than a player that provides rebounding, three point shooting, very good passing, and perhaps the only low post offensive player on the team.
We just don’t get it.
In our opinion, when basketball fans in this area visualize a power forward, they think of Karl Malone, and since Love doesn’t remind them of Malone, then he’s just not good enough.
We even heard one person question Love by asking when was the last time the former UCLA standout made an All Star team…he made it this year.
We also don’t understand how trading Love for a player such as Paul George or Jimmy Butler makes the Cavs significantly better. The latter two players are the flavor of the month, big scorers.
Remember that Love was a big scorer in Minnesota too, he has sacrificed his scoring when he came to Cleveland. Can the players people want to trade Kevin Love for do the same?
As several basketball people have told the Cleveland media, be careful what you wish for.
The Cavs do need to improve the roster to win an NBA title in 2018, but dealing Kevin Love probably isn’t the way to do it.