Kevin Love found himself on the outside looking in on Team USA’s rotation as the Olympics approached. His minutes were few and he was relegated to the bench. For a player with his skill set, Love was supposed to be a valuable contributor to Team USA with their lack of size and his ability to rebound and stretch the floor on offense. Yet, in the exhibition games leading up to London, Love was an after thought.
However, in the first game of group play against France, Love got and seized his opportunity. In just over 14 minutes, he totaled 14 points, seven of them in the third quarter, on five of eight shots, including a three pointer, grabbed three rebounds, and had a steal. Where Love is invaluable to Team USA is with his outlet passes. These allow this wing laden team, replete with speed, to get out on the fastbreak where they are virtually unstoppable.
This was the break that Love needed. His role on the team should be increased as Team USA gels through group play. Yet, Love’s real contribution to the Olympic experience may not be on the court at all.
With the continuing explosion of social media, Love has nominated himself as the unofficial photographer of Team USA and began uploading photographs to Instagram. Love isn’t the only member of the national team on Instagram, he has just been the most prolific ‘grammer during the Olympics.
Much of his photography, when not focused on sleeping teammates, has given fans a behind the scenes look into the day-to-day lives of the team and coaches. Coach Mike Krzyzewski crouched in a yoga pose in the practice gym, pre-opening ceremony attire, and Chris Paul playing horse have been some of the more memorable photos.
In a way this allows fans to have a more intimate relationship with the team and players. Love has brought anyone who follows him into their personal lives, humanizing some of the best basketball players in the world.
This trend is sure to only grow as social media connects more and more people. Instagram was already a major facet in the lives of some NBA players last season, but it could see a rapid explosion after Love’s visual culture immersion. The Olympics are about the human effort and the bonds we all share, Love is simply expounding on that contact.