HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Some of these “so-called” basketball purists have been scolding us all season here at the hideout for celebrating Kevin Love‘s double-double work, arguing that it doesn’t mean as much since he’s doing it on a losing team.
We can agree to disagree with these self-proclaimed protectors of the game on this one and rest in the fact that anything that hasn’t happened in three decades that doesn’t involve a comet or some sort of natural disaster deserves every right to be celebrated.
Love’s 52nd double-double — he got his 16 points and 21 rebounds last night without setting foot on the court in the fourth quarter against the Pacers — not only gave him the longest such streak since Moses Malone‘s 51 game stretch over two seasons (1978-80), but the Timberwolves also picked up a rare win.
This idea that Love is chasing a record and not wins is beyond preposterous. If you’ve spent five seconds listening to what he has to say, you’d know that Love would trade all of the numbers and attention he’s received for his work this season for a winning situation. He’s won big his entire basketball career until now, so that DNA doesn’t change.
The drive, focus and energy it took for Malone to score all those points and grab all those rebounds in his day is the same it takes for Love to do it now. And that drive, focus and effort is required whether you are winning or losing, as Love has surely found out the hard way this season while chasing wins more than anything else.
In fact, it’s clear that Love has learned a little something from the many that came before him. And at least one of them seems genuinely impressed with Love’s body of work this season.
“When I played, I wasn’t thinking about setting records, I just wanted to win,” Malone said. “But I am really happy for Kevin, he’s doing a great job…playing hard, getting rebounds, scoring…doing what a big guy should do. I think it’s great the kind of numbers he is putting up, and I wish the young man the best of luck.”
Love needed a little of that last night. He wasn’t even sure he would play against the Pacers, a stiff knee putting a serious glitch in his plans. Luckily he had some other elders around to guide him, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune:
Love credited an ongoing conversation with assistant coach Bill Laimbeer for getting him through the night’s pain and doubt.
“He was a player who played hurt,” Love said. “He played with a broken nose. He played with fractured ribs. And he’s not afraid to tell you that, either. He encouraged me throughout the game. I think that helped tremendously.”
But is it a “record?” Wilt Chamberlain recorded at least 227 consecutive double-doubles back in another era. Nine players — from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor and Elvin Hayes to Malone, Jerry Lucas and Bill Russell — had double-double streaks of at least 50 games back when such record-keeping was more fuzzy.
“Whether you put it as ‘modern day’ or you put it ‘NBA/ABA merger,’ then I would say yes,” Love said. “But if you’re looking in the grand scheme of things, you’ve got to look at the Big Dipper, Wilt the Stilt. He’s something special. It’s not like I have my eye set on that. I’m pretty happy where I’m at.”
Don’t be shy young fella.
Keep doing what you do!