Souhan: Love can lead in stats, but can he lead the Wolves?

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 26, 2014 - 7:08 AM

The All-Star Wolves forward is another local star struggling to lead a team to the playoffs.

hide

Dante Cunningham and Kevin Love did a victory dance earlier this season after a win.

Photo: Marlin Levison,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Even when the Timberwolves have it good, they aren’t.

Thursday, our favorite cursed franchise enjoyed one of the best days in its quarter-century of existence. Kevin Love became the first Woofie since Kevin Garnett to be named a starter in an All-Star Game.

It’s an epic individual achievement. Because Love plays for the Wolves, context taints the honor.

Love has elevated himself without elevating his team. That’s not all his fault, but it demonstrates how complex winning can be, and just how cursed the Wolves have been.

For long stretches of Wolves history — pretty much any time Bill Musselman or Flip Saunders wasn’t running the sideline — the fan base has yearned for a quality coach. Now they have a potential Hall of Famer in Rick Adelman, and he often looks disgusted by the challenges this team presents.

For long stretches of Wolves history, the fan base yearned for a front office run with passion and expertise. Now they have NBA veteran Saunders at the helm, and his first draft and his team’s performance leave much to be desired.

Since the Garnett trade, the Wolves have yearned for a star of Garnett’s ilk. Now they have Love, a first-team All-Star, an elite scorer, an integral part of a gold medal-winning Olympic team, and his individual brilliance only raises questions.

Why can’t an alliance between Saunders, Adelman, Love and point guard Ricky Rubio produce a winner?

Why can’t the Wolves’ most talented roster since the Garnett years contend?

Why do at least some of Love’s teammates so obviously view him as an individualist rather than a leader?

Will Love’s achievements and suspected lingering anger over David Kahn’s contract snub lead him to leave Minnesota as soon as possible?

Saunders, Adelman, Love, Rubio … this should be seen as an embarrassment of riches for one of the least-successful franchises in America, and yet the Wolves are in danger of missing the playoffs again.

Love’s honors highlight the danger of depending on a star. While the Gophers basketball team is winning because of coaching and cohesion, Minnesota’s professional teams are all underachieving despite the presence of highly paid stars.

The Wolves feature an All-Star starter in Love — and a 20-21 record.

The Vikings have Adrian Peterson, the best running back of his era — and finished 5-10-1 last year.

The Wild spent fortunes on Zach Parise and Ryan Suter — and seem headed for another eighth seed and first-round playoff loss.

The Twins have Joe Mauer, who is one of the most accomplished catchers in baseball history — and haven’t had a winning record since 2010.

No Minnesota professional team has advanced in the playoffs since the Vikings, aided by Brett Favre, made it to the NFC title game in 2009.

Stars are supposed to transform franchises. These four have been weighed down by the gravitational forces of their teams’ struggles.

Basketball, more than any other sport, promotes the idea of the transformational star. Superstars are supposed to win titles, or at least vie for them.

Where does that leave Love? He has become one of the league’s most productive and celebrated players, but the Wolves’ best season since he arrived produced a paltry 31 victories last year while he was injured.

Entering the weekend, the Wolves were tied for 10th in a 16-team conference despite Love’s impressive numbers.

In a locker room where his accomplishments should make him the Alpha male if not the alpha and omega, he has feuded with veterans J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham.

It’s not Love’s fault that Rubio and Kevin Martin can’t shoot straight, that the roster is weaker than it appeared last summer, that the franchise that drafted him also drafted Flynn and Wes Johnson, but he will be judged by his team’s performance.

By the end of the weekend, Love will have 39 games remaining in which to prove he can carry a flawed team.

The Wolves know they can’t win without him. What’s more troubling is that they still aren’t sure whether they can win with him.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays

at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is

@SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • NBA Sunday Insider: Adelman a fan of Utah's Sloan

    Saturday January 25, 2014

    Earlier this month, Adelman taped a personal five-minute testimonial about his friend and competitor, calling Sloan the opposing coach he always respected most because his teams always were tough-minded and...

  • Gameday preview: Wolves at Portland

    Saturday January 25, 2014

    wolves gameday9 P.M. AT PORTLAND • moda ARENA • no local TV (830-Am)Preview: The Blazers have won six of their...

  • Wolves this week

    Saturday January 25, 2014

    the wolves this weekMonday: 7 p.m. at Chicago (FSN/NBA TV)Wednesday: 7 p.m. vs. New Orleans (FSN)Friday: 7 p.m. vs. Memphis...

  • MINNESOTA TOPICS: Kevin Love

    Find the latest news and information about Kevin Love.

  • Wolves Kevin Love and Portland's Nicolas Batum went after a rebound during the second half at the Target Center in Minneapolis Wednesday, December 18, 2013. Wolves won over Portland 120-109. ] (KYNDELL HARKNESS/STAR TRIBUNE) kyndell.harkness@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 4
Houston - WP: T. Sipp 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 1
San Francisco - WP: T. Hudson 10 FINAL
Washington - LP: D. Fister 3
St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 5
Chicago WSox - LP: D. Webb 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 4
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 8 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Stroman 0
Atlanta - WP: D. Hale 3 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: M. Parra 1
Seattle - WP: D. Leone 5 FINAL
Boston - LP: K. Uehara 3
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6 FINAL
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 3
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 8 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo 3
Detroit - LP: R. Ray 6 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: R. Pressly 20
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 13 FINAL
Colorado - LP: F. Morales 5
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 1 FINAL
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 5
LA Angels - LP: J. Grilli 3 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Gray 5
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 2 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: D. Haren 6
Carolina 7 FINAL
New England 30
NY Giants 35 FINAL
NY Jets 24
Jacksonville 12 FINAL
Detroit 13
Oakland 21 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Chicago 6 FINAL
Seattle 34
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
FC Dallas 2
Montreal 16 FINAL
Winnipeg 24
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Chicago 80 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Los Angeles 72 FINAL
Phoenix 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How do you like the Kevin Love trade?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close