To Kevin Love, a June trip to Boston was nothing more than a chance to see Fenway Park and the Red Sox. It was not an opportunity to tour his next NBA home.
That city eventually became Cleveland, which worked out a mega-deal with Minnesota to acquire Love following its signing of LeBron James.
The Cavaliers made their first trip to Boston since James’s return on Friday night and Love, as expected, was flooded with questions about his summer visit, during which he walked through Boston Common, took pictures with locals, and shook hands with Rajon Rondo at a Red Sox game.
“Oh, sure,” Love said when asked whether he was surprised about the media attention the trip received. “That’s the world we live in now, that stuff like that can happen. The fact is my agent [Jeff Schwartz] is a big Red Sox fan. We’ve been planning a long time to come in and check out not only the city but a Red Sox game. We had a great time and we plan on coming back.”
Love was still a member of the Timberwolves when he visited Boston, and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge tried arduously to work out a trade for the All-Star big man.
“It’s just one of those teams, it’s a tremendous city, I love it here,” Love said. “Sports in general are huge here. But it’s been fantastic being part of the Cavaliers now. This team is formidable, has a big presence, and we see a lot of you guys [media] on a daily basis.”
Love has already been besieged with rumors and controversy. The latest rumor has Love opting out of his contract and signing with the Lakers, near his college home of UCLA. Earlier this week, Love and Kyrie Irving celebrated a Cavaliers run against the Pelicans by mimicking twisting their mustaches, but some observers thought it was a signal for smoking marijuana.
“I haven’t done media in probably three days and what I was going to say whatever we were doing with our hands was about as true as me going to the Lakers next year,” Love said. “I don’t know why it was so hard for people to realize that we were actually twirling our mustaches. I guess because I had my fingers in the wrong place.
“Looking at the tape, the film don’t lie. It does look like we are doing something bad. That wasn’t the case. I don’t know where somebody got that.”
The Celtics envision third-year forward Jared Sullinger following in Love’s path, turning himself into a multi-skilled power forward with perimeter shooting range. Love agreed.
“He can shoot the ball; I know he hasn’t particularly shot it well from the outside early on but he’s a banger, a guy who can step out,” Love said. “A good little face-up jumper. I remember watching him in college. He’s a good player.”
Love remains a big admirer of Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
“I think Brad Stevens is an awesome coach,” Love said, “He has talented guys on his team, I like [Kelly] Olynyk’s game, I mentioned Sullinger, Jeff Green. I’m a big fan of Rondo as well. They have good guys on this team and I think they’re going to be able to figure it out and accumulate more talent, and like I said, I’m a big fan of Brad Stevens.”
Love had 12 points and 15 rebounds in the Cavaliers’ 122-121 win Friday.
Blatt back home
First-year Cavaliers coach David Blatt coached overseas for nearly three decades before getting his first NBA job just weeks before James committed to returning to Cleveland.
Blatt played basketball at Framingham South High School before four seasons at Princeton. He then spent 12 years playing in Europe before becoming a coach in 1993. He was a four-time coach of the year in Israel and also coached Russia in the 2012 London Olympics.
“I was an ardent follower [of the Celtics],” Blatt said. “I sat in my bedroom with a transistor radio listening to Johnny Most. Bill Russell was my idol and probably those Celtics teams were the reasons I fell in love with basketball the way that I did.”
Blatt appeared content to finish his career overseas but at age 55 decided to give the NBA a serious try.
Cavaliers general manager David Griffin hired Blatt just before the draft, when Cleveland was still considered a rebuilding franchise without James.
“It wasn’t something I dreamed about on a daily basis, probably more so when I was a kid,” he said of coming to the NBA. “Over time, as I made my way through the different situations in Europe, I began to think what was left for me was to come full circle and to come back home.”
Thornton in action
Marcus Thornton was back in the Celtics’ rotation after missing Wednesday’s loss to Oklahoma City with a sprained right ankle. Thornton scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in 18 minutes . . . Injured guard Marcus Smart was on the end of the Celtics bench wearing a boot over his sprained right ankle. Center Vitor Faverani (left knee surgery) also attended the game.
Gary Washburn can be reached at email@example.com.