Kevin Love was LeBron James’ teammate and friend for four years in Cleveland as the Cavaliers dominated the NBA’s Eastern Conference, but learned from the media of his departure to Los Angeles for the Lakers.
So what Love told James via text may surprise people who expected the perennial NBA All-Star in his own right to be hurt or offended to find out such news not directly from James. He told ESPN’s Get Up Wednesday that he just simply wished James well.
“I kind of had a feel for it towards free agency but I actually got the news when I was in New York [and] looked at my phone and thought ‘Okay, he’s off to the Lakers,'” Love told the sports show. “I wished him the best. I text him, told him I loved him and we go from there.”
The low key response is not surprising for many NBA watchers who saw how Love, 30, who was considered one of the best players in the league while with the Minnesota Timberwolves, often quietly played second fiddle behind James in Cleveland.
“(James is) always looking for a new opportunity and the plays he was going on the court and off the court, I think he wanted to see how he can impact another team and L.A. was the right fit for him,” Love told ESPN about the move.
Now Love, who helped Cleveland to four straight NBA Finals, winning the title in 2016, will now be looked to again to lead a team as the Cavaliers attempt to move past the LeBron James era for a second time.
“It’s a new opportunity with the Cavs and we are really going to have to step up,” Love told Get Up. “We have veteran guys, younger players too that are going to be able to help us. But it’s going to be interesting to see where this goes.”
Love, who won an Olympic gold medal with the U.S. men’s national team in 2012, suggested that he is looking forward to the new look Cleveland Cavaliers and believes coach Ty Lue will stay the course.
“It’s a never-ending, always evolving, process but now with LeBron gone, I think we’ll see a lot of the sets that were in Minnesota as well as what Ty Lue has implemented over the last few years,” Love said.
Love was applauded in many circles when he revealed in March that he suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, going public with his mental illness to help others.
“Call it a stigma or call it fear or insecurity — you can call it a number of things — but what I was worried about wasn’t just my own inner struggles but how difficult it was to talk about them,” Love wrote in The Players Tribune then, acknowledging that he was not seeking mental health professionals for the issues.
“I didn’t want people to perceive me as somehow less reliable as a teammate, and it all went back to the playbook I’d learned growing up. … As much as part of me wanted to, I couldn’t allow myself to dismiss the panic attack and everything underneath it. I didn’t want to have to deal with everything sometime in the future, when it might be worse. I knew that much,” he continued then.