Kevin Love Receives Commemorative Olympic Ring
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Wolves forward Kevin Love had good news on two different fronts during Sunday’s home game against the Chicago Bulls at Target Center. Not only did Love receive his commemorative Olympic championship ring in a pregame ceremony, and he also gave an update on how his hand is healing and what the future might hold for him heading into the final weeks of the season.
Love received his ring in a special pre-game ceremony from Sean Ford, the director of the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team. This season has been difficult for Love and Wolves fans because he’s been sidelined for much of the campaign after breaking his right hand twice—once in the preseason and another time Jan. 3 at Denver. But Sunday’s on-court presentation was a well-deserved tribute to Love’s on-court contributions to Team USA’s second straight Gold Medal.
The U.S. team went 8-0 during their run to gold, including a 107-100 win over Spain in the championship game. Love posted 11.6 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds during the run, including an increased role on the team as the tournament went on. He contributed at both the power forward and center spots, and he was influential not only with his scoring and rebounding but adding some defensive grit down the stretch against Spain for the Gold Medal.
“It might be the best team I’ll ever have a chance to play on,” Love said. “Being a part of that team and playing with the different players that make a mark on this league in a very positive way, it was unbelievable.”
Love received praise from his Team USA teammates during his stint with the club. The team had a who’s who of talent and NBA future Hall of Famers, and some of the headliners talked about Love’s contributions throughout the summer during trips to Target Center or over All-Star Weekend.
“He’s an outgoing dude, a hard worker,” Kobe Bryant said in February. “Very intelligent. Team guy.”
LeBron James had high praise for Love and how he came to work each day.
“I told Kevin Love that I appreciate the way he plays the game,” James said. “I love the way he plays, the way he plays the game. He goes out and gives it his all every single night and continues to get better.”
James Harden said he’s known Love since high school and has known for years how valuable he is to a team. Anthony added Love brought value both under the basket and on the perimeter.
“Toughness, and a big guy who can spread the court, who can shoot,” Anthony said. “One of the best rebounders of our time that I’ve ever seen.”
Love’s Hand Re-Evaluated This Week
Before the ceremony, Love spoke with the media during pregame and said that he expects to be re-evaluated at the end of the week either and will have a CT scan that will be the next step in figuring out when he'll be cleared for full contact practice. Thursday will mark 12 weeks since he broke his hand in Denver for the second time this season and had to undergo surgery that included placing a pin in this right hand.
But while he felt discomfort when he returned last time, after he broke his hand in the preseason. This time around he's feeling much more comfortable.
"I was a little nervous that first time around," Love said. "Because I kept waiting. Some days would be better than others. But now it's far more consistent. It feels great shooting the ball."
Love has been taking part in 3-point shooting drills with his teammates at recent practices and has visibly looked comfortable and confident in his shot. He said as much tonight: "I'm shooting the hell out of it...I'm shooting a lot better. It's back to how it used to feel."
Now, the question is when will he return?
He said it will be up to the coaches to talk about when the best time might be. He doesn't want to rush coming back in hopes of not prematurely returning and hurting the hand again, and it has crossed his mind not playing for the rest of the season. That part of the equation will be a conversation he'll have with the coaching staff as well as owner Glen Taylor and President of Basketball Operations David Kahn. If the doctors say it will be another 10 days before he can have contact, that could factor in adversely to his return. But he said he'd like to come back and be on the court.
"I think it was a combination of a lot of things—not knowing where my hand was going to be, and having to lead the team right when I got back, stay in shape," Love said. "Just so many things added on to that. Plus not having a full training camp with the new guys. I think that was definitely tough. But, right now, I’m just looking forward to coming back and easing my way into playing. Playing hard, playing aggressive and just being myself."
Still, with Love feeling comfortable with his shot again, that's a good sign for both himself and for the Wolves.
"I know that I’m really fortunate that it’s back to where it was," Love said. "Still getting a little bit of strength back, getting some tightness out of my hand. But When that scar tissue goes away, it will be 100 percent. But my hand at 80 or 90 percent really feels good."
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