Watch CBS News

Kevin Love Calls Stepovers 'Disrespectful,' Indirectly Calls Out LeBron James

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Did Kevin Love just publicly announce his impending free agency?

Of course, nothing's that simple, particularly with a player who's under contract and can only leave his current team via trade. But given all that's happened with Kevin Love -- from seemingly being left on the outside of LeBron James' clique, to having his production drop a great deal with Cleveland, to having folks wonder loudly whether the team is better without him just last week, etc. -- his most recent comments sure do raise the old eyebrows.

After a controversial weekend which saw LeBron step directly over the downed body of Draymond Green before Green retaliated with a quick punch to LeBron's man parts and in the process earned himself a suspension for Game 5, reporters asked Love for his opinion on the stepover move (for lack of a better term).

LeBron James Steps over Draymond Green and they nearly FIGHT (2016) by pennyccw on YouTube

Specifically, Love was asked if it's insulting or disrespectful to step over an opponent who's down on the ground.

"You know, it's tough to say," Love said after a chuckle and a pause to decide what he was going to say. "You don't see it too much. But yeah, I think it is looked at as a form of disrespect. But, I don't know, it's seldom seen. It's tough to answer, I don't know."

The answer itself is more of an obvious statement of fact than it is anything inflammatory, but in a Finals that's growing as heated as this one, the fact that Love wasn't interested in blindly backing his teammate won't go unnoticed.

It's typically frustrating to see the typical teamwide response of rallying around a teammate, even when that teammate was obviously in the wrong for some action. So in that sense, it's nice to see a player like Love speaking to the media like a normal human and not an athletic cyborg. The way the question was framed without specifically mentioning LeBron or Green by name was the only way to get a player to potentially comment negatively on the act, and Love seemed happy to take the cheese.

It's also worth noting that when it came to the subject of LeBron's sixth man, Love does support his teammate.

"When it comes to getting hit in your manhood, it kind of changes things," Love said. "So I don't think there's any place in the game for that, but playing physical and hitting guys and checking guys and getting thrown on the floor, that sort of thing. That's just all part of the game."

But again, given all of that background with Love and the Cavs, you can't help but wonder if his honesty about LeBron's stepover will become the last straw for Love in Cleveland.

In a series where Klay Thompson is calling out LeBron for having his feelings hurt, and where Mo Speights is tweeting baby bottles about LeBron, and where even Steph Curry's wife is getting in on the bashing, LeBron needs his teammates to have his back. And in this case, Love didn't have it.

And it seems now as much as it ever has that they won't be teammates for much longer.

Now hopefully someone asks Tyronn Lue for his opinion on stepping over an opponent during the NBA Finals.

He might not like them too much, either.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.