Kevin Love publicly responds to private criticism from his Cavaliers teammates

Following reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers held a team meeting to, among other things, call out Kevin Love for missing much of Saturday’s blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the ensuing day’s practice for what they thought was a fake illness, the All-Star forward has responded publicly.

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Understandably, Love wished details about Monday’s meeting had not leaked. He also wished the details that did go public weren’t so focused on him, because he did not leave with that impression.

“Did I feel like a target?” Love said from shootaround before Tuesday night’s road game against the San Antonio Spurs, via the Associated Press. “I think everybody, most people, were a target. We’re trying to figure this thing out. People hold themselves to a very high standard on this team and we’re a team that can compete at the highest level. So, for us, it’s not about me.

“I’m not going to make it about myself. I’m sure with other guys, it’s the same thing. The biggest thing is moving forward. For me, the thing I’ve always done is kept my mouth shut, I continue to work hard and try to do best for the Cavs. That’s all I can do tonight and moving forward these last 35, 40 games and overall just try to help this team.”

Cavaliers superstar LeBron James reportedly refused to answer questions about the meeting.

Kevin Love doesn’t feel like a target for his Cavaliers teammates. (AP)
Kevin Love doesn’t feel like a target for his Cavaliers teammates. (AP)

One person who was willing to come to Love’s defense on Tuesday was Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue.

“It’s not about one person, it’s about all of us,” said Lue, via the AP. “If the training staff says Kevin is sick and he’s out, he’s sick and he’s out. I don’t think anybody on our team is a doctor, none of the players, so you can’t speak for what the training staff says. Of course, throughout the course of the season he’s human, everyone is human and there’s going to be other guys that are going to get sick and be down now, too.

“We’ve just got to move forward, move past that and we’ve got to try to get on track as far as winning basketball games.”

And then the coach jokingly offered this not-so-ringing endorsement of his second-best player:

The Cavaliers have lost five of their last six games and 10 of their last 14, falling from within one loss of first place in the East to one game up on fourth. They have been prone to midseason swoons, but this one feels different. Kyrie Irving is gone, they own the NBA’s second-worst defensive rating, barely better than the Sacramento Kings, and LeBron’s impending free agency has been a cloud over the organization.

The hope is that Sunday’s meeting cleared the air, and the Cavaliers can take off again.”Or it could be the water that breaks the dam,” one player told The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd on Tuesday. “We’ll see.”

This has been coming for some time. Lue made vague reference to his players being on different “agendas” two weeks ago, and prominent Cavaliers anonymously pleaded for a shakeup to the roster last week. This week was the boiling point. We’ll see whether they start cooking or are already cooked.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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