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Kevin Love Would Forever Regret Leaving Minnesota

Jan 18, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) talks with forward Kevin Love (42) against the Detroit Pistons at the Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Pistons 93-85. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 21, 2012

When an NBA superstar unleashes the wrath that Kevin Love unloaded on the Minnesota Timberwolves in an interview with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the discussion is bound to run rampant through the sports media.

Perhaps, though, those talks of Love's exit strategy were a bit premature.

But there was one theme that survived the often short-lived publicity of the 24-hour sports cycle.

One that had the potential to be the proverbial straw that broke the organization's back.

Wojnarowski laid out the Timberwolves' strategy by suggesting that Minnesota GM had tabbed Ricky Rubio (and not Kevin Love) as being worthy of a five-year max contract.

Love only fueled that speculation telling Wojnarowski, "It was a projection over a sure thing."

The media pounced on the opportunity to be the first to talk the demise of another great Timberwolves duo. Ryan Jones, former editor-in-chief of SLAM Magazine tweeted:

 

I assume someone has already made the Love/Rubio as Steph/KG comparison? I don't mean in general. I mean the breakup.

— Farmer Jones (@thefarmerjones) December 18, 2012

 

With both Rubio and Love returning to the floor in recent weeks, the words lingered like a looming snowstorm. As with any potential disaster, Minnesota fans prepared for the worst.

According to Rubio, though, Love's comments were a non-issue. Nothing more than a media-sparked frenzy with plenty of bark, but no bite.

During a conference call, he told NBA scribes his relationship with Love wasn't fractured. In fact, it was stronger than ever (via Jorge Sierra of hoopshype.com).

"Kevin said he loved me," Rubio said. "And that's huge coming from the star of the team."

Rubio may be green behind the ears in terms of NBA experience, but remember that he was an accomplished star overseas before his transatlantic move.

So he's got a far greater understanding of the business side of basketball.

With his comments, he took two important steps for the franchise.

For starters, he didn't simply say that he and Love were on good terms. Rather he chose to proclaim the strength of their bond.

The duo's chemistry has been apparent since they first shared the NBA floor.

But that type of on-court harmony doesn't always foster positive off-court relationships. 

With his eloquent delivery, though, Rubio led observers to one obvious conclusion in the same way he leads teammates to point-blank looks at the basket. He couldn't have unearthed a word with stronger emotional implications to describe the second-year teammates.

Secondly, he dispelled any present divisive talk and laid out the groundwork to prevent that talk from ever reappearing.

Notice how he referred to Love—the star of the team. In an ego-driven league, Rubio's selfless approach was as refreshing as it was powerful.

Will Minnesota win a championship led by their dynamic duo? It's tough to imagine without some major upgrades in talent given the strength of their supporting cast comparative to the elite franchises.

Are there other situations that could offer Love a faster track to achieving his lofty postseason goals? Of course there are. The Los Angeles Lakers (his most speculated suitors) have had their struggles, but Love looks every bit the missing piece to turn that franchise around. Put the Timberwolves and Lakers rosters side-by-side, and L.A. has five of the top seven players.

Does the history of Minnesota's front office speak to the truth of Love's criticisms? Absolutely. They've struggled to lure talent to the City of Lakes and met an equally challenging task in their attempts to hold on to the occasional stars that they've grasped.

But there's no better place for Love to spend the rest of his NBA career than where he's spent his first four-plus seasons.

He's the face of the franchise, an unattainable position if he were to move to a team like the Lakers.

And in Rubio, Love has a teammate willing to defer production and subsequent recognition in keeping with the team's best interest.

Love can opt out of his current contract after the 2014-15 season.

But he'll never find another opportunity quite like this.

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