Minnesota Timberwolves’ head coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders was upset about a video that poked fun at Kevin Love upon his return to Minneapolis as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Maybe what Flip Saunders meant to say was something like this: “I mean, have you guys seen Andrew Wiggins? This whole Kevin Love deal worked out pretty well for us.” Or maybe that’s what he should have said.
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The second biggest story in the NBA this past off-season was the uncertain future for Love and the fact that he was eventually traded to the Cavaliers. In no uncertain terms, Love forced his way out of town. That the Minnesota fans and marketing staff would want to poke him upon his return is understandable and harmless.
Saunders didn’t think so, however, and when asked about a video that trolled Love by hyping the return of Mike Miller instead, the head coach vocalized his objection.
“I think as an organization we should be above that,” Saunders said Saturday, via Ohio.com. “We have to acknowledge that Kevin, when he was here, he was a great player for us.”
When he was told that Love found the video hilarious, Saunders scoffed. “It doesn’t matter if he thinks it’s funny. You have to decide what you want to do as an organization. Would San Antonio do that? No. They wouldn’t do that. He might have thought it was funny. But I know, deep down in his heart, no one would like that. It’s human nature.”
You know what else is human nature? Resenting a player because he openly pouts, effectively holds the team the you love hostage, then forces his way out of town. The fans aren’t wrong here, and neither is the marketing department for creating a video that “trolls” Love but is actually harmless.
The Carmelo Anthony situation with the Denver Nuggets is an appropriate comparison. After forcing his way out of town, Anthony received chilly receptions upon his first couple returns to Denver. Over time, however, he started to receive a more welcome and appreciative reception for what he had meant to the franchise during his time there.
One noteworthy difference, one supposes, is that Anthony actually carried the otherwise helpless Nuggets to the playoffs, something Love cannot say of his time in Minnesota.
Back to Love’s first return appearance: he deserves to take some heat for how he left. Give these fans the chance to unload some baggage. Time heals all, and eventually Love will come back to an appreciate crowd that acknowledges his individual accomplishments and honors what he did while playing in Minnesota.
With all of that said, Love still received an ovation and had a tribute video during last night’s game. So it’s not like it was all nasty on Saturday night in Minnesota.
Those warm fuzzies didn’t have to happen the first time though, not after the way Love behaved to get his way. That’s what Flip Saunders has got wrong here.
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