Kevin Love’s experience playing for the national team was part of the reason why he made the U.S. Olympic roster for the 2020 Tokyo Games, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said Monday.
Love was the target of ESPN analyst Jalen Rose’s controversial remarks. Rose, who later apologized, said Love was making the team because of “tokenism.”
Colangelo pointed more toward Love’s experience in international competition as to why he was on the team instead of someone who had a better 2020-21 season like New York Knicks star Julius Randle.
“It’s because of his international experience. Yes, it’s true. He hasn’t played much of anything these last few years. But his versatility is valuable up front,” Colangelo said, via SB Nation.
Love, Bam Adebayo, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Jerami Grant, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, Zach LaVine, Damian Lillard, Khris Middleton and Jayson Tatum also made the team. Head coach Gregg Popovich leads the staff with Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce and Jay Wright.
Colangelo touted the roster in a press release.
“We are excited about the 12 players who have been selected to represent the United States in the Tokyo Olympics,” Colangelo said in a press release. “This was an unusually challenging selection process for many reasons, including the year postponement of the Olympics and the issues related to the timing of the NBA regular season and playoffs.”
He went on to say: “Our roster features players who are experienced in the international game, and this team has outstanding athleticism, versatility and balance. We also believe we have excellent leadership which is a necessity in order to develop the needed chemistry. We still have a lot of challenges in front of us, but I believe these players will become a team that all Americans will be proud of.”
Retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the USA Basketball Board of Directors, separately highlighted the quality of players the team has.
“USA Basketball selects players to represent our country in international competition with the skills, character, experience, and desire to win,” Dempsey said. “We build teams that are versatile and resilient in the short, intense competitions we face. We’re fortunate that this group of elite athletes has volunteered to represent us in Tokyo this summer.”
Love only appeared in 25 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2020-21 season. He still finished in the top five on the team in scoring with 12.2 points per game and was third in rebounds with 7.4 boards per game. He’s also emerged as a vital mental health advocate for the league.