The odd relationship between Kevin Love and the LeBron James revealed itself again this week, and it all started because of an Instagram photo.
All year long LeBron has been posting celebratory pictures with a few teammates on Instagram after games. Those posts have gotten more frequent in recent weeks as the Cavs have started winning. Curiously, Love has been absent from almost all of those pictures, which has sent some corners of the NBA world into a tizzy.
After Cleveland’s win over Milwaukee on Sunday, LeBron posted this picture with the caption, “Clique Up!!”
Love, who could enter free agency after the season, has been an awkward fit in Cleveland. He has bemoaned his marginalized role within the offence, and has had an odd relationship with James.
Despite all that, there’s a simple explanation for his Instagram absence.
According to the Akron Beacon-Journal’s Jason Lloyd, Love is always the last player out of the Cavs’ lockerroom because he has “an elaborate postgame routine,” so he misses out on Instagram time.
“He is usually still in his jersey soaking his feet in an ice bucket while all of the others are showered and dressing,” Lloyd reports.
Most of LeBron’s pictures are taken in the lockerroom after the game while Love is still getting changed:
Even though there’s nothing intentional going on here, the photo has forced Love to answer questions about his relationship with LeBron.
On the Mike & Mike radio show on Monday, Love acknowledged that he’s “not best friends” with LeBron when asked about the picture (via Ball Don’t Lie):
“It’s fine. It’s, it’s — you know, we’re not best friends, we’re not hanging out every day, but we see each other every day, whether at the practice facility, whether on the road or going to a game, so I think our relationship is also evolving. I can say the same with each and every coach, coach Blatt, and each and every player on the team, but that’s part of the NBA, and as I’ve said all along, as long as it’s for the greater good, then it’s fine, and I’m sure he’s going to have me in the next picture. We’ll see.”
That’s not exactly going to debunk the theory that there’s tension between Love and LeBron.
On Thursday, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that LeBron has grown “frustrated” with Love.
That report came after different interview where Love said he’d vote for Russell Westbrook over LeBron for MVP. Love’s reasoning was that LeBron took two weeks off to rest his back — which ignores the fact Westbrook missed 14 games due to injury this year as well.
LeBron said he didn’t care about Love’s MVP comments, telling ESPN:
“I don’t really get involved in that. I think the voters are going to decide who is the MVP. I think what Russ has been doing, his numbers have been pretty crazy keeping those guys afloat in the West in his play. Steph Curry can make a case, for sure, what he’s been doing — James Harden and myself, as well. So, Kevin has his own opinion of who he believes is the MVP. No one should fault him for that.”
None of this would matter if it wasn’t for Love’s impending free agency. The Cavs gave up two No. 1-overall picks for Love, and to lose him for nothing after one season would be brutal.
The encouraging thing for Cleveland is that through all of this the Cavs are playing their best basketball of the season. In addition, Love has remained consistent in saying he plans on coming back next year.
While the public Love-LeBron tiff looks needlessly awkward right now, we won’t know what it really means until this summer.
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