Let’s get one thing out of the way at the beginning of this post, the injury to Kevin Love was a senseless act of a desperate player who couldn’t control his emotions in the moment. His team had just completed a game where he only played 3 minutes. He was trying to establish his position by blasting into Love’s back under the boards and was completely blocked by Kevin Love from getting the ball. Love turned to get the ball and Olynyk immediately grabbed at Love’s shoulder, locking it up, grabbed his forearm with the other hand, dropped down and turned away from the ball trying to drag Love with him away from a ball he knew he had no chance to get. This was almost a picture perfect MMA or self-defense move where a person can incapacitate an attacker and drag them to the ground even if the attacker is bigger and stronger. The person has to follow you because they know their shoulder is about to dislocate if they don’t. In the heat of the moment, Love’s momentum going the other way wouldn’t allow him to turn in time to avoid the inevitable. Within an instant, Kevin Love’s shoulder had sustained major damage and his season was ended. Olynyk, hearing Love scream in agony, immediately released the arm in a typical NBA acting move to show the officials he had done nothing wrong.
If you doubt that this was not just a simple “lock up” of shoulders as so confidently and defiantly defined by Charles Barkley, take a close look at this Cleveland.com picture of the incident. Look at the grabbing of the forearm by the second arm and the look on Olynyk’s face and the look on Love’s face. And by that time neither man was looking at the ball, with Olynyk completely turned away from the ball. When you lock up you are still trying to get the ball, not drag another player’s helpless and dangerously exposed arm with your two arms.
I happen to be an experienced injury physician who has taken care of hundreds of athletes and injured people through the years. I am an expert in looking at how an injury occurs and why it occurs. I would not be so presumptuous to know that Olynyk was trying to dislocate Love’s shoulder. That would certainly give Olynyk too much credit anyway. What I do know is that this was a deliberate act of aggression in the heat of the battle that was not in any way a basketball play. Look at Olynyk’s face! He was mad he wasn’t going to get the ball and was going to show Love who was boss by dragging his arm. I doubt he even gave any thought as to what terrible harm he could do at that instant when he pulled and dropped his body away from Love. Notice carefully how much lower Olynyk’s body is than Love’s. It is that fast violent downward drop while turning away (that took less than a second) that ripped Love’s shoulder out of the socket in the most vicious way. In this case, because of all the force generated by Olynyk and the bodies in motion, major damage to the joint was done when it was dislocated.
My final piece of evidence is Kevin Love himself. How often have you EVER heard a player after they get hurt call out their opponent for a cheap play??? Virtually never. They virtually never say the opponent did it on purpose. But Love said exactly that after the incident. The victim usually knows when he has been attacked vs when an accident just occurred. In over 25 years as a sports medicine physician, I have never heard that said by an athlete after they are injured.
So for those national commentators and ex-players and the NBA league to say Cleveland fans are overreacting and this was just an unfortunate incident, I say we know better!! It is expected that this will be covered up and that the Cavs management and players cannot say anything further. They made their case to the league and the league said “We will slap him on the wrist for one game. Now be quiet.” And Charles Barkley had the nerve to say that was “unfair” to Olynyk. And now the Cavs know the league could care less what they say and they just need to move on and keep quiet. Not being affiliated with the league in any way, I am under no such obligation.
Based on specific comments by key individuals including David Griffin and LeBron James and others, it is clear that they know the stark truth as well. They have no doubt that what I have outlined here is the truth. Kevin Love certainly knows the truth. Kyrie Irving knows the truth. The entire Cavs organization knows the truth and the only thing they can say and not get fined is that it was “not a basketball play”. That’s fine. They can move on from here and the fans must move on from here.
Sure, we can boo Olynyk for as long as he plays the game and comes to Cleveland but that’s about it. He would never be “killed” as he so loosely states but he will find it unpleasant. Cleveland fans are passionate and have long memories.
What is much more important to do is focus on the playoffs going forward and try to root for our team to win a championship. What is more important for the organization, players and coaches to do is focus on the task at hand and take care of business. Crying over losing Kevin Love to a senseless act is silly and self-defeating. But I see no reason why it can’t be used as a rallying cry and to help Galvanize the team. That is why my featured picture with the post is the new shirt made at GV Art and Design. I think finding things to bind us closer together now is more important than bemoaning the loss.
Do it for the love of the Cavs. Do it for the love of the city. Do It For Love. I personally think the playoff crowds will be more intense. The players will be even more focused. David Griffin says now that we are the hunters instead of the hunted. That is kind of true. Now we aren’t the odds on favorite to win it all this year. Vegas has changed odds to give the Warriors the gambling edge to win.
It won’t be easy. Players will have to step up. The coaches will have to step up. The team will have to play even harder. We still have the best and most experienced playoff player in LeBron, a star who rises to the challenge in Kyrie, and a ton of other good players who have contributed much to our season or contributed little but will need to contribute now.
Make no mistake, there is NO REPLACING Kevin Love. As LeBron said, “He is special for a reason”. However, we have the team to overcome this and still accomplish a goal not achieved in Cleveland since 1964. To abandon that goal because of some bad luck is defeatist and doesn’t fit Cleveland’s toughness. We can do this !!! When all were doubting them, I told you this team was still special. I am telling you now that they are still special and it will be a monumental task for ANY team to defeat the Cavs 4 times in 7 games! Until that happens, Cleveland hasn’t lost a thing.