Kevin Love’s legacy in Cleveland


Courtesy of the Associated Press

Now entering the free agency after nine years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Love has left his mark both on the court and on the city.

Jack Martin, Staff Writer

On Feb. 18, power forward Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers reached a buyout agreement that sent the 34-year-old veteran into the free agency market. Love’s nine-year tenure in Cleveland was not only defined by his on-the-court heroics, but also his philanthropic and personable nature.
In August 2014, the Cavaliers acquired Love in a blockbuster trade that paired him with elite point guard Kyrie Irving and all-time great LeBron James, who had announced his return to Cleveland just the month before. Love’s impact on the Cavaliers was felt immediately. As one of the league’s premier rebounders and 3-point threats, Love strengthened the team on both sides of the ball. The Cavaliers would make the NBA Finals in each of Love’s first four years in Cleveland, ultimately winning the historic 2016 championship.

In the 2016 run, Love’s exquisite performance is one that Cleveland fans will never forget. In the final minutes of Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors, Love put on an amazing defensive display against back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry. For ten seconds, Love danced in front of Curry, contesting his last second 3-point attempt to seal the Cavs.

Another career moment for Love came the following season. On Nov. 23, 2016 against the Portland Trail Blazers, Love dropped 34 points in the first quarter. This ridiculous offensive display was just three shy of Klay Thompson’s record 37-point quarter from 2015. In 12 minutes of play, Love shot 11-14 from the floor, highlighted by his 8-10 clip from deep. 

In his nine seasons with the Cavaliers, Love averaged 15.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. More impressively, the All-Star power forward shot nearly 40% from beyond the arc during his tenure.

Off the court, Love was a fan favorite for his charismatic and relatable persona. In a 2018 article published in The Players’ Tribune, Love revealed his battle with anxiety and depression, becoming one of the most recognizable professional athlete advocates for mental health. This display of vulnerability touched many young athletes and fans, who empathized with and shared in his struggles. 

When Love’s jersey is inevitably raised to the rafters in Cleveland, fans will remember moments like “The Stop” just as much as his benevolent, down-to-earth character.