Like an impoverished kid, suddenly let loose in a candy shop, Kevin Love is loving the roster he is surrounded by on Team USA. The 23-year old Minnesota Timberwolves versatile big man has gone from rags to riches, heading into the 2012 London Olympics, coming from a bare-bones NBA roster.
It goes without saying, Team USA is stacked with talent. However, more than this, that talent has seen success. Discounting the presence of late roster addition and soon-to-be-rookie Anthony Davis, Love is the only player on the squad not to have smelt the sweet aroma of NBA postseason action. The rest of the team has combined for seven championship rings and approximately 700 playoff games.
When Love looks back to his Timberwolves roster which ostensibly consists of Spanish phenom point guard Ricky Rubio, pivot Nikola Pekovic and himself, the contrast to his Team USA teammates could not be starker. Kobe Bryant has Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Kevin Durant has Russell Westbrook and James Harden. LeBron James has injured USA stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Those last three names should ring some alarm bells for Timberwolves management. Many will remember that a similar international tour of duty with Team USA led to three stars plotting to take their collective talents to South Beach. It was a Decision that has reverberated throughout the NBA, culminating in a 2012 NBA Championship victory for the Heat.
As K-Love told Yahoo! Sports earlier this month:
"My patience is not high," Love said. "Would yours be, especially when I'm a big proponent of greatness surrounding itself with greatness? All these [Team USA] guys seem to have great players around them.
"It's tough seeing all these guys that are young and older who have all played in the playoffs. When they start talking about that, I have nothing to talk about. If I don’t make the playoffs next year I don’t know what will happen."
Love commences a four-year $62m deal this season with Minnesota. The contract allows him to opt out after three years, in the Summer of 2015. However, with the NBA being the player-driven league that it is, you can bet that he would be moved even sooner if he started to make noises of dissatisfaction. Nobody likes a malcontent superstar.
The Wolves made an offer-sheet for Portland Trail Blazers and France star Nicolas Batum this Summer. Unfortunately for fans in Minneapolis, the Blazers matched the offer, depriving the Wolves of the swingman who could have perfectly complemented the talents of Love and Rubio.
That said, Love is proud to represent his country:
"It definitely means a lot," Love said about being one of 12 chosen to represent the United States. "I was a kid who grew up not only watching the Olympics for the basketball, but also everything else included. It was a way to feel patriotic and part of the country. You don't necessarily need to be a sports fan to watch the Olympics."
Outside of Tyson Chandler, Love represents the only legitimately experienced big man on the roster. Coach Mike Krzyzewski will ask him to not only rebound and fill the paint, but spread the floor with his ability to hit the outside shot. Whilst they will often play small-ball, his play will be one of the keys to the success of USA against bigger squads like Spain.
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