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FutureStarrCleveland Cavaliers To Retire Kevin Love's Number
On Saturday, the Cleveland Cavaliers announced that Kevin Love will be joining Austin Carr, Nate Thurmond, Bobby Smith, Mark Price and Brad Daugherty as a player to have their jersey retired by the team.
Love was an inspirational leader for his team both on and off the court. He was instrumental in their four-year run to four consecutive NBA Finals, serving as a key factor in their only championship in franchise history.
At 38 years old, LeBron James is one of the greatest players in the NBA. However, he may be reaching the end of his career, meaning it could be time for him to retire within a few years.
Many are saying it will be difficult for him to continue playing, but he's not giving up on his dream of becoming the greatest player ever. In an interview with Bleacher Report, he stated that while he doesn't know when his last game will be, he hopes to play like Kobe Bryant did in his final match.
Love has spent most of his career with Cleveland, where he was part of three NBA championship teams with the Cavaliers. Additionally, he helped Team USA earn gold medals at both FIBA World Cup and Olympic events.
He's a five-time All-Star, second team All-NBA selection, and winner of the rebounding title. As part of Cleveland Cavaliers' "Big 3," he led them to their first championship in 50 years - the 2015 NBA Finals.
In Cleveland, he's had to adjust to the new offense and become more of a spacer rather than a scorer. Although it has been challenging for him, he always does it with a smile on his face.
This season, he's averaging 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in just over 20 minutes of play time. Additionally, he is shooting 37% from 3-point range - helping the Cavaliers to an NBA-best win-loss record.
After playing with Love for nine seasons, it would be an incredible honor for him to see his number retired in Cleveland someday. Doing so would place him among greats such as Bingo Smith, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Larry Nance Sr., all of whom have achieved this honor over their careers.
Kyrie Irving was an integral part of Cleveland's run to the 2016 NBA Finals, scoring 42 points in Game 4. Additionally, he hit a clutch shot in Game 7 that helped seal Cleveland's first championship as a city.
He may have been the second-best player on a dynasty that included LeBron James and Kevin Love, but it's hard to argue that Irving didn't make an impact on the court during some of its greatest moments. Love has expressed his desire for Irving's All-Star point guard's jersey to be retired when it's appropriate.
Though not as popular as LeBron, Love believes Irving deserves his place in Cavs history. On Monday, he said his number should be retired in the rafters of Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
Irving not only earned himself an All-Star and champion title, but he was the first Cavs player to earn Rookie of the Year honors as well. A member of the All-NBA team for four consecutive seasons with Cleveland, Irving finished his career as one of only three players - along with James and Love - to win All-Star Game MVP awards.
He eventually forced his way out of Cleveland in a trade, but since then Irving has been an integral part of the Brooklyn Nets' rise to the top of the Eastern Conference. Yet he's not quite back to where he was before leaving; his game has suffered and he's also been criticized for his public behavior - such as refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine or promoting a movie with antisemitic themes on Twitter - leading to plenty of drama within basketball circles.
Since 2008, Mo Williams has been a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2009 he led them to an NBA-record 61-21 win, becoming the first point guard since Terrell Brandon in 1996 to make an All-Star team.
He played an instrumental role in Cleveland's historic first title, ending their 52-year championship drought. Additionally, he earned a place on the All-NBA second team for 2010.
Now, Mo has played his final game with the Cavs and is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, likely signaling that his career is officially over.
His sore knees have kept him out of the Cavaliers rotation this season, and they had hoped that this would lead to increased production from him.
But he still has something special to offer the team: his veteran presence. As a great mentor for Kay Felder and Jordan McRae, his experience has taught the young guards how to play in the NBA with ease.
If he can return to the court, Kevin Love would be an ideal candidate to retire his number and join James' jersey retirement club - an honor only the best players can receive. And Love certainly deserves it.
Determining how much to honor a player with one of Cleveland's greatest names requires some important factors. What does it mean to be part of the only championship in its history and will that be enough for a jersey retirement?
Cleveland Cavaliers fans will never be able to express their gratitude enough for Kevin Love's role in their franchise's success. As a nine-year member, Love now has the option to sign with any NBA team as a free agent.
This season, the Cavaliers plan to honor Love by projecting Zydrunas Ilgauskas' jersey onto Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse court during a halftime ceremony.
At The Q, fans will remember this tribute for years to come as they reflect upon how four NBA titles were brought to Cleveland by Shaq. It promises to be an emotional reunion for many Clevelanders and also serve as a chance to pay respect to one of sports greatest players ever: Shaq!
Ilgauskas was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1996 NBA draft and spent 12 seasons on their roster. He earned two All-Star selections while with Cleveland; he also had a stint with Miami Heat from 2010-11 before serving as assistant coach for Cleveland in 2011.
Ilgauskas' career has been filled with triumph, failure, pain and joy; a testament to how hard work, dedication and character can overcome any challenge.
Jennifer Ilgauskas, his wife, remarked: "Jon's story serves as a testament to how one can overcome hardships and come out on top."
The 7-footer was instrumental in leading the Cavaliers to their first championship in 2007, along with several other victories along the way. Following his final year on the team, he returned home and took on a job as an assistant in the front office.
Carr is one of the most renowned and beloved players in Cleveland basketball history. As the Cavs' first-round pick in 1971, he earned two All-Star selections during his tenure. Playing nine out of ten seasons for the Cavs, Carr contributed to their initial three playoff appearances.
He earned a place on the Cavaliers All-Time Starting Five as chosen by fans, ending his professional career with 10,473 points in 11 seasons.
Carr was an outstanding player at both professional and college levels, earning two Naismith College Player of the Years and becoming the second-all-time leading scorer in NCAA tournament history. Throughout his college tenure at Notre Dame he averaged 34.6 points per game and finished as its fifth leading scorer.
In his initial season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Carr struggled with injuries that limited his playing time. Once healthy again, however, Carr quickly showed why he was selected as the top pick in the NBA draft; finishing the 1973-74 campaign with an impressive statistical average of 21.9 points, 3.8 assists, 85.6% free-throw percentage and 38.3 minutes played per game; as well as earning his first All-Star selection after participating in 81 games.
After retiring from professional basketball, he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers as Director of Community Relations and served as color commentator on their broadcasts on Bally Sports Ohio. Additionally, he had been part of their radio broadcast team for nearly 40 years, becoming a beloved figure with fans.
The Cavaliers have a tradition of retiring players' numbers and placing commemorative banners in the rafters at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Notable alumni include Bingo Smith (#7), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (#11), Larry Nance Sr. (#22), Mark Price (#25), Nate Thurmond (#42) and Brad Daugherty (#43). If Love can join this select group of legendary players whose jerseys have been raised high in the rafters at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, it will mark another chapter for this franchise that has its roots deep within its walls.