Kevin Love’s most excellent summer

Former Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love has penned a “goodbye”, sort of, to Minnesota.

So I’d like to take a moment to thank the fans of Minnesota for six great years. I still remember sitting in Madison Square Garden when I was first drafted in 2008, thinking that if I could go anywhere it would be to the Timberwolves to work with one of my childhood idols, Kevin McHale.

There are so many people in Minnesota who helped to shape my game and mold me into the player I am today. I’ll always be fond of going to Manny’s Steakhouse, and the support I got from the entire Minnesota community — even in tough times — is something I’ll remember forever. (Seriously, thanks for not burning my jersey, you guys.)

I grew up a lot – personally and professionally – during my time with the Wolves. I’ll be the first to tell you that I didn’t always handle things perfectly. We are all unfinished products.

It’s not easy to handle the disappointment of losing when you’re in your early twenties. There were times when I wasn’t easy to be around in the locker room. It’s hard to be a leader when you don’t have the model — and when you don’t have a blueprint for what winning in the NBA looks like.

But I make no excuses. I posted my best personal numbers last season, and we still didn’t make the playoffs. Some of the backlash was pretty hard to take — I learned that there is apparently such a thing as an “empty stat” (I’ll try to remember the importance of that the next time I am boxing out for a rebound against Tim Duncan)

That last sentence is a rip on sportswriters and fans here who have minimized the impact of his departure by alleging he was a guy who only cared about his stats.

In his essay, “How I Spent My Summer,” on The Player’s Tribune (Derek Jeter’s new project), Love also unflatteringly portrayed his former team’s lack of camaraderie in a most Minnesota way, by ostensibly talking about a trip to Brazil with his new team.

Once we got in the air, I expected guys to throw on the Beats and pull out iPads. That’s what I was used to. This was a 12-hour flight, and I was counting on at least seven hours of shuteye. That never happened. Drinks were poured.

Guys took turns telling stories. After a whirlwind summer, it was the first real chance to let our guard down without being judged in the public eye. And the really special thing, the thing that can be rare in the NBA, was that everybody was included. Where you came from, where you went to school, what kind of neighborhood you were from — none of that mattered on this flight.

“I’ll grab a broom and sweep the floors if it gets me an NBA title,” Love said.