Kevin Love is an NBA player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. A five-time All-Star, he was an integral part of the 2016 Cavaliers team that won the NBA championship against the favored Golden State Warriors. But you may have heard of Kevin from his 2018 Players’ Tribune essay titled “Everyone is Going Through Something”, which detailed a very public panic attack he had in the middle of a game. In the aftermath of that moment, Kevin became a leading figure in the conversation about mental health among athletes.
Listen to the latest episode of All Inclusive as Jay and Kevin get candid about mental health and discuss how his panic attack changed his life – leading to him establish the Kevin Love Fund – and how he stays mentally fit while inspiring others to do the same.
To learn more about the Kevin Love Fund, click here.
Please find a transcription of this episode here.
Kevin Love is an NBA player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is also a mental health advocate and founder of the Kevin Love Fund.
Jay Ruderman: Ready? Hi, I’m Jay Ruderman and welcome to the “All Inclusive Podcast:” stories of activism, change and courage.
Greta Thunberg: This is all wrong.
Simone Biles: I say put mental health first because…
John F. Kennedy: This generation of Americans has already had enough.
Leonardo DiCaprio: I stand before you, not as an expert, but as a concerned citizen.
Jay Ruderman: Each episode we bring you in-depth and intimate conversations with inspiring individuals trying to change the world.
Kevin Love: I always had a place to escape or a place to go hide or a place to try and compartmentalize, but this was something that was unraveling in front of 23,000 people.
Jay Ruderman: And today on our show: Kevin Love
Kevin Love: Basketball has always been my very healthy escape to combat any anxiety or dark periods or months within my life. And if that’s taken away from me, what else do I have?
Jay Ruderman: Kevin Love is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. A five-time All-Star, he was an integral piece of the 2016 Cavaliers team that won the NBA championship against the favored Golden State Warriors. The son of a former NBA player, Stan Love, and the nephew of Mike Love from The Beach Boys, Kevin grew up in Lake Oswego, Oregon and became the first player in NBA history to record 2,000 points, 900 rebounds, and 100 3-pointers in a single season. But you may have heard of Kevin from an essay he wrote in “The Players’ Tribune” in March of 2018 about his struggles with mental health, detailing a recent experience of having a panic attack in the middle of a game.
Kevin Love: This was something that has been a constant I would say, since since really my early teens, and something that I never really looked in the mirror and said, Okay, this is something you have to deal with, until it happened at, you know, a very, public setting in front of, you know, tens of thousands of people.
Jay Ruderman: In the aftermath of that moment, Kevin became one of the leading figures in America’s conversation about mental health among athletes. A few months after the publication of that essay, Kevin established “The Kevin Love Fund,” a nonprofit that aims to break the stigma around mental health and give young people the tools and support they need to thrive. In the past years, while still being an active NBA player for the Cavaliers, Kevin Love has been devoting much of his spare time and energy to helping others and promoting education and awareness in the field of mental health.
Kevin Love: Hey, you know, it could be you, it could be a family member, it could be, you know, your kid, brother, sister, whatever it may be, somebody very likely is going to go through a very, very tough time within their life, and you’re going to be better equipped if, if you’re educated on this stuff and continue to pay it forward.
Jay Ruderman: Kevin Love, thank you so much for becoming our guest on “All inclusive,” and welcome. It’s a pleasure to have you here.
Kevin Love: I appreciate you having me, Jay.
Jay: So Kevin, take us back to that moment that you kind of famous for on November 5, in the middle of the game against the Hawks, when you disappeared in the locker room. Tell us what was going on at that time.
Kevin Love: Yeah, for me, it was a very public moment. You know, it’s November 5 of 2017.
NBA Announcer: Miss by Love. Good pickup by Crowder.
Kevin Love: And, you know, there’s just a number of things that weren’t truly going right within my life. And that’s something that I had, you know, kind of dealt with away from the limelight and always had a place to go when I’d have these moments of panic or have these moments of depression. I always had a place to escape or a place to go hide or a place to try and compartmentalize. But this was something that was unraveling in front of 23,000 people.
NBA Announcer: Kevin Love, wide open, now they see him, and he scores!
Kevin Love: So it was a very public episode, where I had to remove myself from the game, after a timeout in the second half —
NBA Announcer: And a timeout…
Kevin Love: — and just ran into our locker room and thought I was having a cardiac type episode. And couldn’t catch my breath, was running around trying to, you know, find something, didn’t know what I was looking for, and ended up, you know, just out of breath and full panic attack on the floor of our head athletic trainer. And, you know, there was a couple of teammates, assistant coaches, training staff members that had seen me, you know, kind of go through this. So everything that transpired after the fact and everything that followed was really me trying to hide it, just live in the shadows and just under–trying to understand, wrap my head around what my teammates are gonna think if they were to find out or if other people were to find out. Would they be able to trust me, would it affect my livelihood? Basketball has always been my very healthy escape to combat any anxiety or dark periods or months within my life. And if that’s taken away from me, what else do I have? So, yeah, the next several months were not too good to me. A lot got worse before it got better. But you know, it wasn’t ‘till March of 2018, several months after the fact that I actually told my story on “The Players Tribune” of what had happened that day, and kind of what I’ve dealt with since my childhood.
You know, it must have been terrifying for you. And I know, I’ve read, you know, that you said that you thought you were gonna die, and you put your hand down your throat, trying to be able to breathe. But one of the things you said was most helpful, is that your trainer like turned to you and said, “What do you need?” And, you know, what was it like? Because there’s a lot of people that are going to listen to this, who’ve also gone through a panic attack in different ways. How did you get through it?
Kevin Love 03:32
You know, directly after when it happened, I had gone to the Cleveland Clinic here, right down the street, and had pretty much, you know, checked out, they ran all the tests, everything was all good. So I had thought to myself, “Well, what the hell just happened?” But I think the biggest thing that I did is, I looked in the mirror and said, “Okay, this can’t happen again. And if it does, I have to be prepared. And the only way that this is going to work is if I started doing the work, actually on myself.” And I had put it so far off to the side for so long, seeing a therapist or even, you know, toying with the idea of speaking to somebody that, you know, could could really give me professional help and make me take steps in the right direction, and healthy steps in the right direction. You know, it’s a thing that happens to so many people and once I had shared my story on a national level and people got a hold of it, that there’s just such a big community out there that deals with these type of things, whether it be you know, first person, or somebody I always say, within arm’s distance, somebody is dealing with something that that you can’t see. And I think that allowed me to continue to peel back the layers and expose more in order to not only help other people, but in a healthy, but yet selfish way, help myself.
Jay Ruderman: You talked about having depression in your past and anxiety, but never dealing with it. How did you know that you had it? I remember you talking about your brother saying you’d go into a room for a long period of time, and then you’d emerge, qnd he’d be like, “Okay, Kevin’s back with us.” But how did you get to the point of being a celebrated player in the NBA, and yet, you know, this was in your background, and you hadn’t dealt with it up to this point?
Kevin Love: Yeah, I mean, I think I always knew I had it. With the anxiety, it was always that, it’s varying levels of it, but always constant, even now, a low level threat that, you know, anything or something could go wrong at any given moment. And there’s certain things that trigger that, or there’s experiences or, you know, being out in public that might, you know, take that to a level where, okay, I need to, you know, start putting together an exit plan here or understand, you know, how to get out of a situation that, you know, for me is going to really give me a lot of anxiety or is not fitting within my stress budget. But then with depression, there were just a lot of times wasn’t that much, it wasn’t that much that I could even do about it. I would just find myself in constant darkness, you know, for weeks at a time, in some cases when it was really bad, months at a time. I penned my second article in “The Players Tribune” during the pandemic, where I talked about, you know, a season where I’d actually broken my right hand, and I’d only played 18 games, and I kind of just shut myself into my apartment, and only left for obligations related to basketball and that was it. And became a recluse, didn’t really talk to anybody, shut out my friends and family. And, you know, those are major moments in my mind that stick out. But this was something that has been a constant I would say, since really my early teens, and something that I never really looked in the mirror and said, “Okay, this is something you have to deal with,” until it happened at, you know, a very, like I said, public setting in front of, you know, tens of thousands of people.
Jay Ruderman: Yeah, and I know, you’ve talked about the passing of your grandmother, Carol, and how that was suppressed and yet weighing really heavily on you. I mean, I lost my grandmother years ago, Rose, and she was the closest person I was ever close to in my life. You know, did that lead to your panic attack or coming to a realization that, “Hey, there’s something going on here that I haven’t quite dealt with, fully?”
Kevin Love: For me, my grandma care was such a cornerstone, is, was the cornerstone of our family, like she is like the essence of what, you know, I would want my future family to be like, with my fiance. I mean, she was just so special, lived vicariously through each and every family member and just didn’t need much. She just, you know, wanted to love, wanted to be loved, and just nurture and take care of people.
Carol Love: Happy birthday Kevin. You know, I miss you so much and I don’t get to see enough of you. You just make me happy and when you come home I’m such a proud grandma. So, happy birthday to the boy I love.
Kevin Love: But I never went through the grieving process until I started going to therapy. And I didn’t realize how much that affected me in such a negative way, in such a poor way, until I started going to therapy and actually speaking about it with, you know, my therapist, and my friends and my family. Because it all just came so quick. We live such fast lives in professional sports, and in the NBA games come at you so fast. And when she passed, it was, you know, right around Thanksgiving. And, you know, we were just right into the next game, I didn’t even get to see her get buried. I didn’t get to go to the funeral. I didn’t get to spend time with my family when all that process happened. It was just the next thing. So yeah, I was playing for her. And she always loved to come to my games. She thought, you know, we had this thing that she was, you know, kind of the, you know, the lucky charm or something, if you will, of my career. And every game that she came to she had a hell of a record out there with us. But I just never allowed myself to pinpoint and say, “Okay, this was so great, or this was so bad,” or anything in between, and just allow myself to feel in a way that that I should have, you know, over that course of time until I did in 2017 when I started going to therapy.
Jay Ruderman: Well, I’m really sorry for your loss because I know what it is to lose someone so close to you and I want to ask you, you mentioned you know, when you came out in the article in “The Players Tribune,” and you describe your panic attack and mental health struggles, what was your feeling right before you pressed send, and you decided to go out to the world and say, “Hey, this is who I am?”
Kevin Love: Yeah, it was scary to press send on that article, because not knowing, again, how my teammates or my friends, my family, my organization, how they were going to react, what they were going to think, you know, was my livelihood gonna be affected, you know, will I be able to play after this season next season, if others are going to look at me like, oh, he can’t be trusted? Or is he going to be able to play in the fourth quarter? You know, long term, is he somebody that we can rely on? So, I think for me, it was, yeah, definitely very scary, and a super vulnerable moment. And, you know, in a hyper masculine type of sport, and, you know, growing up in that type of world my entire life, yeah, it was, it was definitely something that I couldn’t wrap my mind around. But I just thought to myself, “I’m, you know, struggling in silence, I’m really suffering in a really bad way.” Like I said, it got a lot worse before it got better for me, even, you know, after, after I exposed this, it took me a while to really settle into myself and say, “Okay, this is just going to be a part of my life now, and people are going to know about it.” But I think it was, you know, being a part, like I said earlier, being a part of something bigger than myself, and you know, fighting for other people, and also paying it forward, always being a giver. For me, that allowed me to, to settle in, you know, to who I am, and be more comfortable in my own skin, and to just say, “Hey, listen, this is what you get. This is me, and I’m not perfect. But you know, I’m going to continue to work on myself. And I’m going to continue to try and make other people’s lives better at the same time.”
Jay Ruderman: And despite your fears about how basketball was gonna react, can you talk about the reaction? Because from what I’ve read, it was fairly positive. The Cavaliers were there for you. The NBA was there for you. So what was the aftermath of releasing that letter like?
Kevin Love: Yeah, I would say, pretty much overwhelmingly positive, which really surprised me.
Female Newscaster: A surprise move by an NBA star today. Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love opened up about his mental health, sharing how a panic attack [fades under]
Michelle Beadle: Your reaction to him opening up.
Jalen Rose: I applaud his courage, as well as DeMar DeRozan’s courage.
Steve Kerr: I read the article this morning. I thought what he said that was, that meant the most to me, was, “We’re all going through something.” It’s true.
Jalen Rose: I’m pretty sure it’s gonna give so many people the courage to come out and do the exact same thing.
Byron Scott: I agree with you Jalen. I applaud him as well and what it does is it humanizes us— [fades under]
Kevin Love: I think on top of that, I had no idea. Because I didn’t even want to take that path, or go into that space to learn about all this. I didn’t know what was real, I didn’t know what I want— if or what or when, or how I wanted to find out certain things about anything mental health related, because I just thought if I just put it over there, it’s not real. Thankfully, like I said, it was, it was definitely well received. I was able to be very authentic, use my voice, and just tell the story up to that point of, you know, kind of what had happened that season, you know, within my life that year, how I was feeling what I was going through. There’s so many people that have dealt with this within their families, whether it be themselves, whether it be a brother, a sister, a mom, or dad, grandmother, grandfather, I know certainly in my family that is the case. And just so many of my friends that I thought I knew what they were going through, but until we had, you know, some tough conversations, I had no idea. And for me that allowed me to feel more grounded and want to continue to work within this space, because it’s become really fascinating for me, and again, it’s been very therapeutic to understand that this is bigger than me, and yet I feel like I can have a major impact because the numbers, there’s so much strength and numbers within all of this. It’s a pretty amazing thing to see what we’re capable of, if we all just, you know, bring ourselves together for a common cause.
Jay Ruderman: You know, you mentioned your friends and and you’ve said, you know, if it hadn’t been for a couple of your closest friends, I don’t know if I’d be here today telling my story. So maybe you can talk about you know, your friends a little bit and and what they, what they were able to do for you.
Kevin Love: Yeah, I mean, I think just more than anything that it’s that support group. Within my friends, in my closest friends, some of them didn’t actually know everything that was going on, but the very, select couple or a few that did, I’m more than thankful for, I feel like I’m indebted to. Because, you know, there’s one in particular that we were able to get through high school having each other, and together, because we were able to be sounding boards and almost like therapists for each other in that way, where if we didn’t have each other, we look at each other now and said, “Man, going through that time was really hard.” Like high school is hard. Like that 15 ,16-year old, freshmen and sophomore year, with all the stress, with all the expectation, you know, coming from every which way, as well as just having to show up and show your face in high school five days a week is something in itself. But again, if it weren’t for a select few, I truly believe that I don’t know if I’d be sitting here having this conversation today. I’m sure he’ll be watching this, he definitely knows that, you know, we see eye to eye on this, that we helped each other through a lot of tough times and still do.
Jay Ruderman: Right, and you continued in another article in “Players FM,” and you talked about, you know, being in a dark place where everyone around you wants to see you doing better and do what you love and being happy and being the old you. And sometimes it feels like the world is saying, “Come on, man. Just get it over with.” What do you say to people who say, “Hey, listen, you’re successful, you have a lot of money. How did you become depressed?”
Kevin Love: Yeah, I mean, I think that was kind of what I would say to myself. People that didn’t understand it, or who’ve never gone through these types of things that they would just, “Oh, just get over it or just change your way of thinking.” It’s like, oh, yeah, I guess I didn’t think of that one before. But, you know, for me, it was not an easy thing to accept, especially at this level. I think, you know, one of the biggest moments in my life and my story too was that year, actually, at the end of 2018. Anthony Bourdain was somebody who I really loved and admired, and, you know, you felt like he had the coolest job in the world and great TV show. Traveled the world, felt like I traveled the world with him, and had cool friends, the coolest job, whatever. And in Game four of the 2018 finals, I woke up and saw a number of text messages and, you know, things that had come through my phone that Anthony Bourdain had taken his life and had passed away. And I just started backtracking and thinking to myself, like, you know, “There’s Robin Williams, there’s him, there’s Kate Spade,” like all these names, all these, you know, very public eye, famous people, wealthy people, well-off, well-liked, well-received. And I think it was Bryan Cranston, actually, that said it and he said, “It just goes to show you that success is not immune to depression.” And he’s so right by that, you know. It doesn’t discriminate. You don’t get to choose. Yeah, there’s certain ways that you can kind of tackle things within your way of thinking or you can alleviate stress or anxiety but, you know, sometimes there’s things in your brain that aren’t quite adding up. There’s chemical indifferences and things going on in there that you can’t just say, “Hey, listen, just change your way of thinking,” or “Hey, just don’t be like that,” or “Hey, just, you know, find energy where you can’t find it somewhere–.” It just doesn’t work like that. And I wish people, I think that’s where, you know, educating people and understanding research and eliminating – is a big way to continue to eliminate the stigma is having conversations like this. Because I feel like people that have never gone through something of this caliber, of this size, or of this, you know, just weight that, you know, they wouldn’t be able to understand it. So I think that having these conversations is a unique way to, you know, pay it forward to those people as well. To just educate them and have them understand that, hey, you know, it could be you could be a family member, it could be, you know, your kid, brother, sister, whatever it may be, somebody very likely is going to go through a very, very tough time within their life, and you’re going to be better equipped if, if you’re educated on this stuff and continue to pay forward.
Jay Ruderman: Sure. I mean, Anthony Bourdain was one of my favorites, and it was a shock. Let me ask you, since you are a famous person, do you think fame is natural? Is it a natural condition that humans are set up to deal with? And how do you deal with it day-to-day?
Kevin Love: That’s a great question. It’s funny, I’ve never been asked that before. I don’t, you know, there’s obviously levels to fame and everything, but in terms of like, playing in Cleveland, living in Cleveland, it being such a town where you live through your sports teams, like, you are somebody that is in the public eye. But I don’t know, especially with somebody that has, you know, acute anxiety or somebody that has, maybe, agoraphobia, which I certainly did in my early 20s just going out and thinking something’s gonna go wrong, I’m gonna get publicly embarrassed, so on and so forth. Like I don’t think that it is a natural thing. And there is no real way to, you know, whether it be expose yourself to it, or grow accustomed to it in a fast way. I mean, I don’t think it’s, maybe, the healthiest way to live your life and have to, you know, have a stress response or consider these type of things when you just get in your car, and you drive to wherever you need to be. So yeah, I have a little bit of trouble answering that, but that’s very thought provoking. I’m gonna have to give some more thought to that for sure.
Jay Ruderman: I want to talk about another athlete who took a lot of grief.
Simone Biles: No injury, thankfully. [fades under].
Simone Biles. When she pulled out of the Olympics, a lot of people said, “Hey, you’re a quitter,” and I think that they really missed, you know, what she was going through. She talked about, you know, the twistees that she’s, you know, jumping high up over a bar and doesn’t know where she’s gonna land, whether it’s on her head or on her feet.
Simone Biles: And it’s been really stressful this Olympic games. I think, just as a whole, it’s been a long olympic process, it’s been a long year [fades under].
Jay Ruderman: And she was going through something really serious, but people were giving her a lot of grief and you really spoke up about her. Maybe you want to talk about that. And like, you know, your connection to other athletes who have gone through some of the same similar things.
Kevin Love: I applaud Simone, who is the greatest female gymnast of all time, and yet she’s like, “No, I choose myself.” And the fact that she was more than willing to do that and understanding, “Hey, I’m budgeting this for myself, for my stress, for my health, for my family, for my teammates, for my country, and allowing myself to take a step back in order to be better in the future?” I mean, full up, I mean, complete standing O, applause to her, to be able to do that, because that took a lot of strength and a lot of courage, and I don’t think we’ve seen the impact that she has truly had on everybody, because it’s gonna be, you know, years and years and years and years of positive impact coming from just that moment alone. So, for her to do that, I just think it was, I mean, it’s just a beautiful thing and it adds to that strength in numbers and that army that we have, as, at the very least, athletes within this mental health space that are stepping up and, you know, being, I mean, just amazing leaders.
Jay Ruderman: Yeah, I want to thank you for that leadership, because you’re sticking by other athletes who are going through similar things, But maybe Kevin, you can talk a little bit about all the things that you’ve done with COA and “The Kevin Love Fund” to help people. Because, you know, you’re taking an active role in trying to make our society better and help people who are going through different mental health issues.
Kevin Love: Yeah, I mean, we, as I mentioned, like after, in 2018, in March of 2018, I penned that first article. And then in September, we started “The Kevin Love Fund.” And, you know, it still feels like it’s in its infancy, yet we’ve been able to do so many cool things and work with so many great people. And we just have a unique blend of education, research, grant making and advocacy. It’s been really special to see our curriculum come into place these last couple years and getting through our pilot program and continuing to learn, you know, where to best serve. I mentioned those 15 and 16 year olds within high school that, you know, are really going through a tough time. Their bodies are changing, their minds are changing, they’re asked so much, trying to make the sports team, trying to make the drama club or whatever it may be, there’s so much coming at them, that we felt that was a sweet spot. And having teachers being able to model vulnerability for these kids within the curriculum, with these 14 lesson plans that they’re able to share through different mediums, not unlike, you know, me penning in “The Player’s Tribune,” that article. But you have, you know, playlists that you can make as well where you can explain kind of, you know, what these songs mean to you and express yourself in that way. It could be photography, it could be poetry, I mentioned journaling, I mean, there’s so many different ways to express yourselves within that that is, you know, incredibly important. So we’ve had over a thousand students, hundreds of teachers as well gone through the curriculum and there’s going to be a lot of more updates this summer coming, but it’s going to be free and nationwide to everybody this summer. So we’re super excited about that. But just continuing to pay it forward, like I said, and, you know, our idea is that we want to impact a billion people worldwide within the next five years. But like I mentioned, that ripple effect, and just changing that one person’s life is, you know, so momentous in itself, and we just want to continue to keep doing that.
Jay Ruderman: Thank you so much. I want to ask you, you grew up in a really successful family. I mean, your dad, Stan Love, was a successful NBA player.
NBA Announcer: Stan Love is in the ballgame for Baltimore, number thirteen.
Jay Ruderman: Mike Love, an Uncle, formed the Beach Boys with his cousins. [music from a Beach Boys concert plays] What was it like growing up in a family of such high achievers? And did you feel like you were chasing some really high expectations as as a kid?
Kevin Love: Yeah, no, and I definitely had a father that was tough on me, and maybe even harder on my older brother, as well. So yeah, I do think that there was some expectation there, especially having a father who had played in the NBA and then having a very high-achieving uncle on the same Love side of the family. And then there was just, you know, between, you know, the Love family and the Wilson family, there was always turmoil. I mean, that’s just the truth of the matter. And I think we, as kids, didn’t truly understand that, or understand why things that were, you know, why can’t we see this part of the family or haven’t we seen, you know, grandma or grandpa for a while. I mean, it’s just those types of things kind of stick out in your head and you’re able to connect the dots looking backwards. And I think you pair that with the expectation, you know, as well as just having a brain that you feel it doesn’t work right, I think all of that is, you know, in some ways, a recipe for some, some pretty ugly moments, but I’m thankful for those at the same time. And in some ways, I talk about trying to achieve my way out of depression as welL. I think, “Oh, if I just get that accolade..” or “If I just make this many three point shots in the NBA…” or “If I just make this much money…” or “If I have this many friends, like it’s all gonna go away.” But come to find out if you don’t do the work on yourself, you can’t make it seem, you know, over there, you just put it away. And what I’ve realized is it never truly goes away, you just change your relationship with it.
Jay Ruderman: So do you think that your view of masculinity has really changed over the years?
Kevin Love: Yeah. I think the view of myself has changed as well. I think I’m a happier person because I understand that I don’t have to be perfect. And I’m just a very flawed person. I’ve had minor mistakes in my life that have accumulated, and some, you know, a few major mistakes that accumulate as well. But understanding that, hey, listen, so long as I’m trying to make steps to improve myself both physically and mentally, and at the end of the day, had the intention to be a good person and help others and be my most authentic self, that I will be happier and better off and hopefully live longer because of it.
Jay Ruderman: Right. So, so important. Kevin, if you’d indulge me for a second, my son is a huge basketball fan, plays on a JV team. He recorded a couple questions for you. Okay, if you don’t mind, my producer is gonna cue them up.
Jay’s Son: From the time you started playing basketball as a child until today, as a veteran NBA player, at what period of time did you most enjoy playing basketball?
Kevin Love: You know, it’s a funny question to get actually right now, because this season, we, you know, we’re only expected to win maybe 27 games. You know, Vegas and like these two other places, they kind of set that number. I think was like 26 and a half or 27 wins on the season. And right now we’re sitting at 33.
NBA Announcer #2: Now he picks the pocket of Christopher, behind the back, Davis, puts it in!
NBA Announcer #3: The game is over. Cleveland has come to Charlotte and stolen one.
Kevin Love: And we just have such a group of amazing young players, savvy veterans, and a great coaching staff, front office, it just feels like a college type of atmosphere. I would say, my senior year of high school, my one year at UCLA, and maybe even this year, I mean, this year, and the run that we had in 2016, where we won the Finals, were my favorite times playing basketball. But just living for now? I love going to work every single day. I love, you know, pivoting where I’m at in my 14th season in my career, coming off the bench in a sixth man role and being able to lead the guys and kind of show them the way and watch their growth within what we’re doing. It’s been an amazing season and a beautiful thing to watch these guys grow, and then they like to call me uncle or grandpa Kevin. You know, try to lead them and show these guys what it takes to make the next step as a team. So I think this year has given back, you know, really a lot, and I think sacrifice has a way of, if you just just dive into it, it has a way of giving back truly a lot more than it costs.
Jay Ruderman: Yeah, well, you’re still young because Tom Brady just retired at 44.
Kevin Love: That’s right. He might come back too, who knows.
Jay Ruderman: Right. All right, next question.
Jay’s Son: How did it feel to be part of the 2016 Cavaliers team that brought Cleveland their first ever NBA championship?
Kevin Love: We had a 52-year drought. And the city let us know. And in the fashion that we won, I don’t think any team had more fun than we did, winning. Even going down 3-1 to the Warriors, a team that had won 73 games that year, our belief system was never toyed with, never messed with. We never lost sight of what was – who we were, who we are and what our identity was. And I think that taught me a really valuable lesson in that belief system, not only within myself, but within the team and within our organization as well, is that that can go really far and it can also, you know, be a major, major agent for growth moving forward in the future. So that 2016 run was, and is, still truly special within my heart and changed my life forever. Probably the biggest moment in my career was, yeah, winning that championship for sure.
Mike Breen: Taken by Speights, final seconds… [buzzer rings]. It’s over! It’s over! Cleveland is a city of champions once again!
Female Newscaster 2: This is how Cleveland rocks.
Fan on the street: Anything is possible!
Jay Ruderman: You’re engaged to be married to Kate Bock and you’ve called her, “the happiness of my life.” Has love changed your life?
Kevin Love: 100%. We got set up on a blind date, and she’s seen me through maybe my darkest, maybe the darkest time of my life, and also my happiest. So for that, I’m extremely thankful. When you want to build a life with someone, having gone through that and, you know, put equity in with each other, it’s an amazing thing to just grow within those moments and understand that you have somebody that’s going to be with you ride-or-die for the rest of your life. So, Kate is truly my best friend, and you know, somebody who, again, will always be by my side.
Jay Ruderman: Can you tell us the blind date story or is that too private?
Kevin Love: No, we just, we had shot with the same photographer, and she wasn’t dating at the time and I was newly single and I had just shot with the gentleman and he said, “You know what, there’s somebody that I think you would like,” and I said, “I’ve never done a blind date before but okay, sure.” Like why not? Let’s do it. So we got a cup of coffee, which turned into about nine cups of coffee and a lot of caffeine in midtown, New York, at the St. Regis, and you know, she became my girlfriend soon thereafter that and several years later, my fiance, and here we are. Now we’re getting married this summer.
Jay Ruderman: Well, congratulations. I wish you many, many years of happiness together.
Kevin Love: Appreciate it.
Jay Ruderman: Any thoughts about retiring? Is it too soon for that?
Kevin Love: No, I think my gray hair is misleading, and in my 14th season, I feel great within this team and really happy in Cleveland with what we’ve been able to do: our three core players having unbelievable years this year, other guys having really breakout years within this team. It’s been special in that way. So, yeah, that really hasn’t even factored into my mind other than what we talked about earlier with Brady retiring after 22 seasons. I think even LeBron said it. He goes, “A part of me kind of left with Tom Brady when he left,” and I still think ‘Bron has a number of years left. But I do think everybody’s kind of considering their mortality when Tom Brady decides to retire. But, for me, I still feel I have a lot left to give.
Jay Ruderman: Well you look good. I saw the recent behind the back pass, so you look great out there.
NBA Announcer #4: Love, steps inside the line. Steps behind the line, and props it through.
NBA Announcer #5: Love finds an opening. He knocks it down.
NBA Announcer #6: It is electric! Behind the back, Osman’s open, huh-ho, yeah!
Jay Ruderman: Well, Kevin, you’re wise beyond your years. I learn so much from you. And thank you so much for being my guest on “All Inclusive,” and I wish you a successful season and congratulations on your upcoming marriage.
Kevin Love: I appreciate it, Jay. Thanks a lot.
Jay Ruderman: Take care.
Kevin Love: Appreciate you.
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Jay Ruderman: On March 13th, 2022, just forty days after retiring, and a few weeks after my conversation with Kevin, Tom Brady announced he would return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2022 season. “All Inclusive” is a production of The Ruderman Family Foundation. This show is produced by Yochai Maital, Jackie Schwartz, and Matt Litman. If you enjoyed this episode, please check out all of our previous conversations. Look up, “All Inclusive,” wherever you get your podcasts. As always, if you have an idea for a guest or just want to share your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. You can tweet me – @jayruderman, or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you enjoy our show, please help us spread the word. Tell a friend or family member, or consider writing a review on your favorite podcasting app. That really goes a long way. I’m Jay Ruderman and I’ll catch you the next time on “All Inclusive.”
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