After a day that started with a tirade against general manager Koby Altman and culminated with in-game show of disgust that quickly went viral (video link), Kevin Love offered his side of the story last night on Instagram, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
“A lot of non truths being shared,” he wrote. “But I’ve learned that we live in a world where people remember accusations and not rebuttals. Let them paint whatever picture they want. Fact is — I love my teammates.”
Those feelings weren’t on display shortly before the end of the first half of the Cavaliers‘ loss to the Thunder Saturday night. Guarded by Chris Paul in the post, Love raised both arms and called for the ball. However, coach John Beilein had instructed Collin Sexton to dribble some time off the clock before running a play. Love stomped toward Sexton and put his hands out until he got the ball, then fired a bullet pass at Cedi Osman.
It was an obvious show of frustration that might have been directed at Sexton, Beilein, Altman or the team’s losing ways in general.
“I think you’re talking about the play with Chris Paul on me,” Love told reporters after the game. “Yeah, I felt we were making a play call and at the end of the second half we were in the bonus and I had Chris Paul on me. Felt swing it to me and try to throw it in the post, see if they double-team me and get a shot out of that, but that’s not what we did. Yeah, I was frustrated.”
After Saturday morning’s shootaround, Love directed his anger at Altman in an animated discussion that began on the court and ended in the GM’s office. Love has had heated exchanges with Altman and the coaching staff before and was fined $1K for a display of emotion during a December 31 loss at Toronto.
Beilein tried to calm tensions last night, accepting responsibility for the play that ended the first half.
“That was my mistake,” he said. “I was trying to get us to slow down and try to get, not the last shot, but close to the last shot. He had Chris Paul posted up and I didn’t see it. It was on me. I called something else.”
Beilein values Love’s passion for the game and his desire to see his young teammates learn to play the right way. Sexton can be frustrating to play with because of his tendency to seek his own shot, Fedor adds, recalling that several veteran Cavaliers spoke out about him early last season.
Love’s future in Cleveland remains uncertain. His championship experience makes him valuable as a mentor, but at age 31 he doesn’t fit in with the rebuilding process. After Saturday’s incidents, everything he does will be closely watched until at least next month’s trade deadline.