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23-08-2018 07:47 AM
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Kevin Love’s arms are lined with finger-nail scratches Cheap Jeff Locke Jersey , discolored bruises and abrasions, hard-earned mementos from months battling under the basket against other NBA big men.

Some of the surface wounds are healing, some are fresh.

Other marks are hidden.

On the eve of his fourth straight NBA Finals with Cleveland, and while recovering from a concussion suffered last week against Boston that could keep him out of Game 1, Love has persisted and prevailed during a season in which he revealed dealing with anxiety and panic attacks for much of his life.

It’s been an emotionally straining – but ultimately rewarding – journey for the 29-year-old All-Star, who laughed when told it feels like he’s been with the Cavaliers much longer than four seasons.

”I’ve been through enough for a guy who has been here for 12 years,” he told the AP following a recent practice. ”It’s been well worth it.”

Love, though, has had to pay a price for his new-found peace.

Almost since the moment he arrived in a trade from Minnesota in 2014 to form Cleveland’s ”Big 3” alongside stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Love has been targeted – a convenient punching bag.

Despite playing at a consistently high level, he’s been called soft, overrated, injury-prone and worse. Trade rumors have swirled around Love almost without pause.

”I think that it’s almost like the `Chris Bosh Syndrome’ like Bron had with them in Miami,” said Cavs guard J.R. Smith, referring to the former All-Star center often under-appreciated on Heat teams with James and Dwyane Wade. ”When things are going good, you know, you give the credit to LeBron. And when things are going bad Adam Ottavino Colorado Rockies Jersey , you’re going to point the finger at the next in line.”

The assaults on Love have been relentless and brutal. While he never displayed his emotions publicly, he was stung by the criticism, which drove him into a shell and made him guarded.

He trusted no one.

”It’s been a learning experience,” he said. ”I came in averaging 25 (points) and 10 (rebounds) and was the man and right on the cusp of the playoffs. And then I was supposed to win a championship and I was trying to figure all that out with two ball-dominant guys and it was a process.

”It was tough for me. Not only that, I was trying to learn so much with trying to be able to deal with what’s sometimes called a circus around here, that sort of thing.”

As the Cavs were in the early stages this year of what has turned into one of the most turbulent seasons in memory, Love was thrust into an uncomfortable, and as it turned out, life-changing situation.

During a heated team meeting on Jan. 22, he was questioned by some teammates for leaving a Jan. 20 game against Oklahoma City and missing practice the next day. Love explained that he suffers from panic attacks and was getting help. He then wrote an essay for the Player’s Tribune, detailing his struggles and describing a previous episode in a November game.

Love’s revelation came while he was recovering from a broken left hand that sidelined him for nearly two months. It was a sensitive subject, and he initially worried about reaction or backlash.

And that’s the warming part of his journey.

Love received thousands of emails from people thanking him for coming forward. Not a day passed that he wasn’t approached by someone who wanted to talk, to tell him they were proud.

”That was the coolest thing about it,” he said. ”So many people came up to me and felt like they could share their stories. I wouldn’t say I was like this 10 years ago, but I’ve become a lot more of an empathetic person and that has helped me in my relationship with my family, my best friends and just anybody that has come up to me and just shared their stories. I like that it has established a community, not only in Cleveland but everywhere.”

It has also changed his daily professional interactions. Love http://www.philadelphiaeaglesteamonlines...ton-jersey , who has received counseling, said it’s understandable if others see him in a new light.

But he made it clear he’s not looking for sympathy.

”I don’t want them to treat me different in there,” he said, circling his finger above one of the Cavs’ practice courts. ”I don’t want them to make any excuse. That wasn’t the point. In the meetings I always say basketball is my safe guard. It’s where I go to escape so all that other stuff goes away. It’s the other times where my mind takes control, where I can be my own worst enemy.”

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he urged Love to let things go, not worry and play.

”I told him,” said Lue, who missed time this season with his own health issues, ”’just be yourself, have fun. You’re one of the best players in the league. You make a lot of money. Relax.”’

Love’s had an uneven postseason. He struggled in the first round against Indiana and scored just seven points in the series opener against Toronto before bouncing back with 31 in Game 2.

Last week, he was knocked out of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals following a first-quarter collision with Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum. Love was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol, and his replacement, Jeff Green, came up big and helped the Cavs win Game 7 in Boston.

Love remained in protocol on Wednesday and his status for the series opener is in doubt.

As his teammates were handed 2018 Finals T-shirts and caps on the floor afterward, Love was nowhere in sight after watching the game from a back room a Having known mostly success over the past decade with the Penguins, Jason Botterill received a sobering introduction to life at the bottom of the NHL during his first season as Buffalo Sabres general manager.

”I’ve been here for one year and I was pretty (ticked) off and upset,” Botterill said during a season-ending news conference Wednesday Authentic Cliff Pennington Jersey , ”I guess I could be articulate, but I’ll just say it (stinks) that we won’t be watching live playoff hockey right now.”

Being on the outside looking in is an unusual position for Botterill, who spent the previous two Junes celebrating Stanley Cup championships as the Penguins assistant GM. He was hired last spring after the Sabres cleaned house by firing GM Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma.

If there’s anything Botterill can draw upon from his experience with the Penguins, is seeing the notable difference between what makes up a winning organization and a losing one in Buffalo .

The Sabres finished last for the third time in five years, and extended their franchise-worst playoff drought to a seventh season.

”Right now we have a losing culture here,” Botterill said.

He put the onus on himself, coach Phil Housley and players to find ways of inspiring change, be it with their training habits or communication and leadership abilities.

”I don’t want to hear how disappointed they are. I want to hear what’s going to change,” Botterill said. ”It just can’t be about words. We have to have better results.”

Botterill backed the disheartening sentiments expressed by center Ryan O’Reilly during the team’s final media availability on Monday. O’Reilly said a losing mentality had crept into the locker room and led him to losing his love for playing hockey at times.

”I think he gave you an honest opinion. And in today’s sports world that’s a little bit unique,” Botterill said.

”When you don’t get the results you want, it can be really draining on a player,” he added. ”And what he said is probably indicative of a lot of our players within our organization. And that’s what we have to work through right now.”

Botterill began the news conference by saying Housley isn’t going anywhere after he struggled in his first year as coach. He credited Housley for developing some of Buffalo’s youngsters, and believes in the up-tempo style the coach began introducing this season.

As for the roster, Botterill didn’t rule out making drastic changes even if it meant shaking up the team’s core group of leaders.

”When you finish where we were, you have to look at everything,” he said.

Buffalo finished last in the NHL with 199 goals scored and 119 goals scored in five-on-five situations. The Sabres also matched a franchise low for home wins in any season by going 11-25-4 at Buffalo – not including an overtime loss to the Rangers in the Winter Classic at New York City in which the Sabres were the ”home” team.

If there was a bright side, Botterill looked forward to the draft in June Cheap Josh Allen Jersey , when Buffalo is guaranteed picking no worse than fourth overall, pending the results of the NHL’s draft lottery on April 28.

Botterill was impressed by Jack Eichel’s development on the ice, where the third-year center set career bests with 25 goals and 64 points, and off the ice in continuing to mature as a leader.

Botterill, however, said it was premature as to whether the Sabres were prepared to award the 21-year-old Eichel the captaincy, a role that was not filled this past season.

”As excited as we are of Jack moving forward as a leader, it’s imperative that we have more players in that locker room step up,” Botterill said.

”This game cannot have one player lead the entire team. It’s imperative that we have stronger leadership bases in there.”

NOTES: Botterill said G Robin Lehner will not require surgery after the starter visited a specialist this week to assess a lower body injury. … In announcing he expects rookie G Linus Ullmark to play for Buffalo full time next season, Botterill said he’s not determined his second goalie, including Lehner, who is eligible to become a restricted free agent. … Backup Chad Johnson completed his one-year contract and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.



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