Our very own Zach Harper penned this thought-provoking, nuanced take on Kevin Love and where he is right now with the Timberwolves for TrueHoop’s new series of TrueCities features centered around different teams and their local stories. (See also Danny Nowell’s great read about Portland’s indie culture and how it relates to the Blazers.) But naturally — because this is sports we’re talking about here — the nuance got sucked out of the discussion the moment readers took to Twitter or the comment section to complain about Zach saying Love’s departure to the Lakers is inevitable.
But A.) That’s not even what he said and B.) The very fact that some readers are unable to understand the nuance of what Zach is saying is itself an illustration of the underlying conceptual architecture that leads to so much hand-wringing over players. Zach makes a distinct parallel between a romantic relationship and the relationship between a given player and a fanbase, writing:
Most of us have experienced the unraveling of a relationship like Love’s tenuous bond with Minnesota. Whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee, there are always signals that show things are going south. Tempers flare up more often. The romance begins to dwindle. The fire gets downgraded to sparks and the sparks eventually become dormant. Soon you’re left wondering what you’re even doing in this situation.
When a relationship appears to be at its end, it’s better to get out early. You don’t want to wait so long that all each party has in the end are feelings of resentment and bitterness. Nobody wants to be left wondering why it didn’t work or how you’ll get your favorite shirt back. That’s where Minnesota is with Love as we creep closer and closer to 2015.
The relationship metaphor is a particularly germane one for Love because one of the fundamental things to realize in this situation is that you can’t totally control the other party in a relationship. So much of the discussion about Love revolves around what the Wolves have to do to make him stay: make the playoffs, get past the first round, sign this player or that player, give him such and such amount of money. But it’s important to realize that at some point, all the right things could happen and Love could still decide to go. Anyone who’s tried to save a relationship by being the very best person they can be, by doing everything exactly the way the other person wants has likely learned that it doesn’t guarantee success.
To quote Minnesota’s own Mason Jennings: “Don’t you know that I did the things I could? / I rubbed your back when you were sleeping / and all along baby it was understood / that you were leaving / absolutely since the very first day we met.” Personally, those lines fucked me up pretty hard at one point in my life. And that was because so often in life we’re only able to believe in two things: the immediate future and forever. Relationships have to mean nothing or everything. You’re either hooking up or figuring out where you want to be buried together. And when we get enmeshed in the second line of thought, we end up thinking only of what we can do RIGHT NOW to secure something for eternity.
And straight up: that’s a shitty, difficult way to look at the world. Some relationships can be real and meaningful and last for a couple months. Or they can be honest, true and beautiful things that last for three or four or five years and then end.
By placing primacy on the question of whether Love is going to be with the Wolves beyond 2015 we lose sight of the fact that he’s here right now, and playing some of the best basketball of his life and likely ours. In our desperation to hang onto Love, we’re letting go of the present, and in many ways, that’s all we ever really have.