Video: Timberwolves fans boo Kevin Love in his return to Minnesota
Although Love wasn't welcomed back to Minnesota with open arms, it probably could have been worse. Love was announced first during player introductions and the crowd engaged in audible, but not totally vicious, booing. Order was more or less restored by the end of Cleveland's introductions and the Cavaliers went on to claim a 106-90 road victory.
Love's return to Minnesota was put under the magnifying glass when the Timberwolves produced a trolling video dubbed, "The Return." Rather than a tear-jerking round-up of Love's six years in Minnesota, the video snubbed him entirely.
"It's all been building up to this, the game we've been waiting for," the video pronounces, while flashing images of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov and a number of other Cavaliers players before setting up the punch line. "And the return of... Mike Miller."
Miller, a well-traveled small forward, spent the 2008-09 season in Minnesota and is Love's teammate in Cleveland.
Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders told reporters before the game that he had not approved the video and he felt the organization should be "above that."
Of course, the split between the Timberwolves and Love wasn't an entirely happy one. Love's time in Minnesota saw reports of his frustration at six straight lottery trips, unhappiness with his failure to receive a full five-year max contract and plenty of trade rumors in advance of the 2015 free agency period when Love would have been able to leave as an unrestricted free agent. Saunders ultimately traded Love to the Cavaliers for 2014 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a 2015 first-round pick. After the trade, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor publicly questioned Love's ability to stay healthy, his defensive effort and how he would adapt to playing in a "Big 3."
While Love's acclimation in Cleveland has been less than ideal, the Cavaliers (28-20) are riding a nine-game winning streak and almost certainly playoff-bound. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, have the league's worst record (8-38) and have suffered through an injury-plagued season.
Love, 26, is averaging 17.2 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists this season. He was not selected to the Eastern Conference's All-Star team.
LeBron James led the Cavaliers with a game-high 36 points, six rebounds and five assists. Love added 14 points and 17 rebounds in the win.
Wiggins paced the Timberwolves with a career-high 33 points. Nikola Pekovic added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Cleveland improved to 29-20. Minnesota fell to 8-39.