- LeBron James and Kevin Love have had a successful partnership, but it hasn’t always been easy for Love.
- ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on Bill Simmons’ podcast that Love had left games “beleaguered and beaten down” because of James or the pressure of playing with him.
- According to Windhorst, Love thinks it’s all worthwhile to compete for championships with James.
Kevin Love’s transition from the No. 1 guy with the Minnesota Timberwolves to a LeBron James sidekick with the Cleveland Cavaliers hasn’t always been the easiest.
Love has at times struggled with serving as a spot-up threat rather than posting or facing up and playmaking from the elbows, as he did with the Wolves.
Fast-forward four years, and the Love-James partnership is about as successful as imagined. Love is on a max contract, has made two All-Star Games, and has been to three straight NBA Finals with James. They may not be perfect together, but it’s hard to argue that it hasn’t worked.
But ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on Bill Simmons’ podcast on Wednesday that playing alongside James had at times taken a toll on Love.
Kyrie Irving “opted out of what Love is dealing with,” Windhorst said. “Love deals with the persecution of being a LeBron teammate, of being blamed, of dealing with his social-media undercutting, of being the fall guy, as he’s called himself.”
He added: “There have been so many days and nights where Kevin Love has walked out of a building feeling beleaguered or beaten down either directly because of LeBron” or indirectly.
But Windhorst says Love insists that it’s all worth it because playing with James also means playing late into the season and competing for championships.
“I have to give Kevin a real major hat tip for being a professional and being an adult about it,” Windhorst said. “He has always seen the big picture … He has always maintained that this is all worth it, that playing in these late games – I mean, this is a guy who played for six years, whatever it was, never sniffed the playoffs. He’s like: ‘This is where I’m at right now. This is the charge for playing with [James].'”
Windhorst noted that Love this season opened up about his struggles with anxiety and stress to promote mental wellness.
It’s not the first revelation that it can be difficult but worthwhile to play alongside James. Former Cavs forward Richard Jefferson told Fox Sports 1 that James was one of the best “camaraderie” teammates he’s ever had, precisely because it can be challenging to play with him.