FROM FAT TO ALL THAT: THE KEVIN LOVE STORY

Thing is, I’ve confessed to being wrong about Love several times over the last month or so. Believe it or not, I used to be a huge advocate of his, especially coming out of the draft. I saw pretty much every game he played at UCLA and I was 100% aware of the talent. Back then, people had him tagged as too fat, not athletic enough, etc. I was sure he’d be a good NBA player because he was simply too skilled not to be..

Truth is truth though. The guy played fat for two and a half years, and didn’t really get in serious shape until this season. There is a reason he and Rambis (or Kevin McHale) didnt see eye to eye and Love only averaged 25-28 minutes a game for his first two years despite putting up gaudy numbers. That’s pretty much where I turned on him, and even last year when he was averaging 20 and 15, I thought they were empty numbers on a shitty team. Here’s a little quote from that new years resolution thing I wrote 3 months ago:

Seriously, I’m not gonna waste my time on these bums. This team is totally beyond help as long as the present brain trust (ha!) is in place. Fuck it.

Alot of people have this team ticketed for a decent year, and well, alot of people are wrong. This is still a team with a horribly ill-concieved roster, no chemistry and a total leadership vacuum. Mark my words, they’ll be lucky to avoid finishing dead last in the West. Sure, they’ve got a some talented players, but that doesn’t mean their team is good.Trust me, it’s not.

So yeah, I blew it one that one, but the crux of my reasoning for why I didnt see this team winning is that I had no faith in where Love and Michael Beasley would lead them, and I thought (and still think) that Rubio is hilariously overrated. Now, it’s easy to see that the two main factors for their turnaround are Love and Adelman. The quasi-Princeton offense that Adelman runs is perfect for a team with talented, versatile offensive players, and the NBA has no shortage of those. With this roster, it’s a no-brainer.

But really, this team has a future now because Love, in a contract year mind you, finally decided to shed all that baby fat and get serious.  Now in his fourth year, he got in tip-top shape. Thirty pounds ago, he was a very good player who looked like he didn’t have the hunger (zing!) to be great. Now, he’s a fucking beast. If he had done this three years ago, this team might have finished anywhere but dead last from 2009-2011, but at least it’s happening now, right? It’s like one of those old Springer episodes. You know, “from fat to all that” or whatever?

So yeah, I was dead fucking wrong about Kevin Love. I thought he was gonna be content to get to be a faux superstar and get his empty numbers on a losing team like he has thus far, but he’s proven that he now has the drive to be an elite player, something he was always capable of. And for the record, I don’t feel the least bit bad about being wrong about this. I mean, I was just going by the dudes’ track record. On a team loaded with talent but short on wisdom and experience, Love has become the pied piper they need.

Still, as far as top 5 or top 10 in the league or whatever dizzy, romantic projections people are attaching to him, he’s definitely capable if he stays the course, but I’m not willing to concede this to him over guys who have proven themselves over long periods of time. Talk to me in three years or whatever and we’ll see if he’s still at his proper playing weight and producing like this. As great a statistical season as he’s having, it’s still too soon to be putting him in that kind of company. I mean, if you look around history of the league, I don’t think you’ll find very many examples of hall-of-fame or elite level guys that basically fucked around for 2 and a half years and then lost 30 pounds and got serious. What you will find however, is a long list of players who frittered away tremendous potential because they didnt have the kind of competitive drive it takes to become great and then sustain that greatness. Not saying that’s the case for sure with Love, but history kind of has my back on this one, from Shawn Kemp to Vin Baker to Derrick Coleman and so on. It’s not impossible for athletes to get skinnier as year years roll by, but the odds ain’t exactly in favor of it.

And a quick aside on his stats: as good as they are, they are sort of inflated by the fact that he leads the league in minutes. If you look at his per 36’s (which is my stat of choice these days) they’re still great, but they are somewhat less impressive.

That’s not a backpedal by the way. More like a half-assed attempt at mitigating my wrongness.

So yeah, let the record officially reflect how wrong I was and shit. Hey, it happens.

Not about Rubio, though. Not even close.

-John Hathwell

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