Kevin Love is probably one of the happiest men alive right now, if not the happiest. NBA Commissioner David Stern has officially replaced Yao with Love, a day after the official list of the East and West’s All-Star Game reserves were announced. Yao, the star center of the Houston Rockets, will not be able to play as he is sidelined for the rest of the season with a lingering injury (stress fracture in left ankle).
After Thursday’s official announcement of the NBA All-Star Game reserves, many people were dismayed by the fact that the Minnesota Timberwolves star power forward Kevin Love was not included. Even former NBA great and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley was disappointed.
On the TNT network, “Travesty” was the word Barkley used to describe the decision to not include Love into the All-Star game despite producing stellar numbers this season. He even went on to say that he was “so mad right now” he wasn’t sure if he could be around until the show ends.
According to Love, his phone and Twitter account were “blowing up” Thursday night with messages from family, friends, and fans. Love said, “I know I’ve had a ton — a ton — of support, maybe more so than others have had in the past. I’m happy and thankful for that.”
Although many were upset by the exclusion, Love himself did not seem very affected at all.
“I’ve been better but I wasn’t very surprised,” said Love, who is among the League’s scoring and rebounding leaders, averaging 21.4 points and a league-leading 15.5 rebounds this season.
Love, who flourished after taking over the leadership role Al Jefferson left behind when he signed with the Utah Jazz during the offseason, disclosed that he got the news after Wednesday’s home defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies that he would not likely be included when the All-Star Game reserves were formally announced on TNT on Thursday night.
Love believes he deserves to be an All-Star. He said, “”I truly and firmly believe in my heart that, solely on play alone, I should have been in there.”
Love, who is a candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award this season, has been outstanding all season long. He has notched double-digit figures in points and boards in a streak of thirty four consecutive games that started on November 22nd. 10 days before the streak began, he became the first NBA player since Moses Malone in 1982 to have compiled 30 points and 30 rebounds in a game against the New York Knicks. He’s so good his head coach Kurt Rambis has described his numbers as “ridiculous” and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant called them “video-game numbers.” Even 2-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard is only averaging 13.6 caroms a game, almost 2 rebounds less to Love’s season average of 15.5.
Love admits the fact that the reason the coaches did not vote for him strongly was because his team has a losing record. “When it comes down to it, the 11 with the 36 or 37 behind it, that kind of killed me. We know why I didn’t make it … I know winning plays a big factor. I didn’t want to be too upset. I’m not too bitter about it,” said Love.
Now, Love can finally celebrate as he will be appearing in his very first All-Star Game on February 20th. Coach Gregg Popovich, who will be coaching the West, will determine who will start in Yao’s place.