Anyone with even a modest interest in the Timberwolves has to appreciate the following from Kevin Love:
*You have to appreciate the fact that he came here as part of a disputable trade on the night of the 2008 NBA Draft and turned it into the best decision of Kevin McHale’s tenure as the team’s basketball boss.
I would put it ahead of selecting Kevin Garnett in the 1995 draft, because it was a much-tougher decision at the time to trade guard O.J. Mayo for Love than it was to select Garnett at No. 5 overall.
*You have to appreciate the effort that Love put in to both transform himself physically and to add much to his offensive game. He has been one of those admirable players who got his bank account filled and continued to work to get better every season.
Then, when limited to 18 games by injuries in 2012-13, he came back as an offensive monster and an All-Star starter in the mighty Western Conference.
Nowhere in All-Star honors is there more prestige than in being selected as a conference starter in the NBA … one of a mere five players from 15 teams.
Yes, Love may be a “numbers guy,’’ but when those numbers are 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists all you can do is whistle.
You know how to whistle don’t you … you just put your lips together and blow. (Maybe that line came off better when Lauren Bacall said it in a movie).
*You have to appreciate the fact that Love --- after two years of immature behavior in sending signals that he would be leaving the Timberwolves at the first opportunity – shut it down for the last few weeks and let Flip Saunders conduct the business of getting the best possible return for his star.
Love could have kept making noise, could have said publicly that he intended to fully explore his free-agent opportunities after next season, but he didn’t do that.
The reverse might be true. There have been reports that Love gave Cleveland a wink about sticking it out long-term with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, which had to make it easier for the Cavaliers to say goodbye to Andrew Wiggins.
*If you’re a hardcore sports fan in these parts, and have tired of the pontificating of know-it-all sportswriters and/or radio hosts, you have to enjoy the fact that Love received instant ridicule from one of those types (I don’t want to embarrass the guy by naming him) and forced that genius to eat every sentence that was written or uttered at the very beginning of Love’s career.
Considering all these positives, and considering that the small group of Timberwolves zealots seems to be voicing approval for the trade, there's a proposal to offer.
Local hoop-heads note Jan. 31 on their smart phones. And then we show up en masse on that Saturday night at Target Center, and here’s what happens:
We throw a surprise at the national pundits, we throw a surprise at Love, and we throw a surprise at ourselves.
We do it by greeting Kevin Love with applause. No boos, no hisses, no one-liners about knuckle push-ups … just respectful applause.
Maybe we even give him a quick stand up when he’s introduced along with LeBron and Kyrie. Not a standing ovation, with stomping and cheering … put the hands together seven, eight times, it's over, and Love is so shocked he can't find his jump shot all night.
We do this to show Love appreciation for what he made of himself as a player in Minnesota, and also what that improvement in six seasons here allowed the Timberwolves to get for him in return.
Let’s make it a hashtag campaign: #applaudlove. Who’s with me?