Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love spoke out about making the USA Basketball Olympic roster for the first time in the wake of ESPN analyst Jalen Rose’s “tokenism” remark.
Rose said last month Love making the team was a form of “tokenism” and wondered why someone like Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton was left off the Olympic roster. Furthermore, Rose said he thought Team USA was scared to send an all-Black team to Tokyo.
He would later apologize but still didn’t think Love belonged on the team.
Love only appeared in 25 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2020-21 season. He still finished in the top five on the team in scoring with 12.2 points per game and was third in rebounds with 7.4 boards per game. He’s also emerged as a vital mental health advocate for the league.
Love told reporters Tuesday he understands where the criticism of his game is coming from after only having played some of the shortened 2020-21 season.
“In a way, I understand [the criticism] because I came off a season where I didn’t play that many games and wasn’t at the top of my game. For me to come here, I feel I have a lot to prove,” he said, via ESPN.
Love has played for Team USA in the past – something that USA Basketball managing partner Jerry Colangelo said was part of the reason why he made it the team in the first place. He won a gold medal with Team USA in the 2010 FIBA Championships and the 2012 London Games.
“I’m 13 years in now, I’ve heard it all. All I can do is go out there and chase the game, let everything fall into place and just bust my a-s and see what I can do for this team,” he added
“I do believe if it’s on me to have to pivot in my career for a team to win, I’m more than willing to do that. I do feel like on [the Cavs] or whatever team I end up on or USA team, this is definitely something I can continue to progress in.”
Love, Bam Adebayo, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Jerami Grant, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, Zach LaVine, Damian Lillard, Khris Middleton and Jayson Tatum also made the team. Head coach Gregg Popovich leads the staff with Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce and Jay Wright.