AUBURN HILLS, MI. – Kevin Love returned to the basketball court Tuesday night, but his mind still was back home.
Love and the Wolves were in Mexico City last Wednesday for a game that wasn’t played when he got the bad news that his maternal grandmother, Carol Lee Craig, had died.
Love left for Oregon shortly after the Wolves returned to the Twin Cities, staying there until rejoining the team in time for the trip to Detroit.
Craig grew up next door to Love and helped raise him.
“She was there the day I was born,” Love said. “She lived right next to me my whole life. It was a little weird going home and not seeing her.’’
Craig, who was 83, had planned to travel to Minnesota over Thanksgiving to watch her grandson play, but that trip was canceled because of health issues. It will take some time for Love to get past the loss.
“We’re all getting together, as a family, after the Clippers game,” he said of the Wolves game in Los Angeles on Dec. 22, just before Christmas. “Because my whole family is from Southern California, except my immediate family. So I’ll see everyone then.”
Renewing a rivalry
Tuesday’s game was Love’s first against old friend Kyle Singler.
Both are from Oregon: Love from Portland, Singler from Medford. They are the same age. They first played against each other in grade school. In the years that followed, they were sometimes teammates — on at least one very, very good Legends AAU team — and sometimes foes.
“I was from the northern part of Oregon, and he was from the south,” Love said. “So I remember seeing him for the first time and saying, ‘Oh, oh, we’ve got a problem.’ ”
Wolves coach Rick Adelman, whose son played on Love’s high school team, remembers being impressed with both.
In 2006, Love’s Lake Oswego High School team beat Singler’s South Medford team for the Oregon state high school championship. Love scored 24 points with nine rebounds in that 59-57 victory. A year later, Singler got revenge as South Medford won the 2007 championship with a 58-54 victory over Lake Oswego that came despite 39 points and 15 rebounds by Love.
Love went to UCLA for one year, reaching the Final Four, then entered the NBA draft.
Singler went to Duke and was a four-year starter; he was the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player in 2010 after leading Duke to the NCAA title. Drafted by Detroit in the second round of the 2011 draft, Singler played one year in Europe before joining the Pistons last season.
The 6-8 Singler is averaging 8.1 points and 3.2 assists coming off the bench.
“I’m so happy for his growth, what he’s done in the league so far,” Love said of Singler. “He just continues to get better. ‘’