Leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers was not an easy decision for Kevin Love. After forging a solid bond for nearly nine years, things didn’t go as well as what he planned for himself and the franchise.
“Professionally, it was the hardest thing I ever had to do without question,” Love said in an interview with Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “I think you guys know how much I love Cleveland and Ohio. All the fans there have always supported me and the team. Naturally, winning there makes it bigger than guys like myself, Kyrie (Irving), Bron (LeBron James). Even here I look up and see the championship banners and I’m like, ‘That’s special.’ I go back to Brecksville and I’m like, ‘We did that. We really did that.’ That was incredibly hard to do after eight and a half seasons.”
Both Love and the Cavs have agreed for a contract buyout in February – becoming the last member of the team’s historic 2016 title team to part ways. The former All-Star proceeded to reach an agreement with the Miami Heat for the remainder of the season.
The final days of Love in Cleveland were filled with absences of playing. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff went on to lean with Dean Wade as a primary backup big while the veteran has been dealing with back issues and thumb injury.
Love’s injury, combined by his inefficient shooting numbers of 38.9 percent for 41 games played, ultimately pulled the trigger for both sides to cut ties for the better.
“I think it was a really tough decision for him to take me out of the lineup,” Love said of Bickerstaff. “I think they wanted to go young and stick with those guys, especially Ricky (Rubio) and Dean getting back from injury. They wanted to get the guys more minutes. But the natural frustration is you want to be out there, you want to have those conversations in the locker room, you want to be in those timeouts, those type of situations.
“I think it like all came so fast for me and there wasn’t any prospect of me going back out there and playing — and I wanted that. I was hungry for that. I was foaming at the mouth for that. Those were really tough conversations, but those are ones that I’m grateful they had with me so I was able to find something else and find a place where I could be happy and play.”
Now in a new chapter of his career, Love is appreciative of the memories he treasures as a former Cavalier while making himself capable to contribute for the Heat squad.
“That’s in my mind and my vision, I thought it would be Cleveland without a doubt, especially after last year and the start of this year,” Love said. “Now you’ve got to put that in the rearview.
“It is tough after eight and a half years, moving in the middle of the season and still living out of a hotel, but in terms of welcoming me with open arms and a class organization, the Miami Heat have been just unbelievable. I can see why they have that rich history and have had so much success because they have been so good to me.”