The Cleveland Cavaliers came together at the start of the 2014 season being hailed as an insta-superteam, with James returning home after winning championships with the Miami Heat, and Kevin Love netted in a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves that James supposedly stumped for. But Love hasn't fit in with the team as many predicted he would, and as a result has shouldered some blame for the Cavaliers’ slow start to the year. Meanwhile James, who sometimes seems a de facto coach and general manager in Cleveland, seems to have taken to obliquely calling him out on Twitter.
In high school, this is called a “subtweet.” NBA reporters are slightly more thorough than teenagers, so they made sure to ask James if his message was specifically directed as Love. “It’s not a coincidence, man,” James confirmed, after initially dodging the question. The drama brings to mind the film Clueless, with James the intense Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), desperately trying to get the shiftless Tai (Brittany Murphy) to fit in, even though Tai just might just prefer to hang, harmlessly and happily, with the burnouts instead.
Drafted by Cleveland out of high school in 2003, James is clearly a player who places a high value on community and close friends—his agent Rich Paul has known him since the two were teenagers, he often vacations with teammates, and he said his emotional return to Cleveland last year had much to do with his connection to the state of Ohio, where he grew up and still lives. His Instagram feed is clogged with pictures of him and his teammates, whom he often dubs a “clique” or “the crew.” Sometimes Love’s face is among the crowd, but he’s been missing often enough that reporters started asking questions, and Love, to their delight, didn’t mince words.
“You know, we’re not best friends, we’re not hanging out every day, but we see each other every day, whether at the practice facility, whether on the road or going to a game, so I think our relationship is also evolving,” Love told ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike when asked about James’ Instagram feed. “That’s part of the NBA, and as I’ve said all along, as long as it’s for the greater good, then it’s fine, and I’m sure he’s going to have me in the next picture. We’ll see.”
Just as a helpful reality check: LeBron James will be paid $21.57 million this year by the Cavaliers, and Kevin Love $15.72 million, and both will command more on the market at the end of the season (although Love is the only one who's seriously considered a risk to leave Cleveland). After a slow start, the Cavaliers have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA in 2015 and are widely tipped to at least make the Finals, a remarkable turnaround catalyzed by James and Love joining the team. So by all means, fans shouldn’t really care who’s showing up in whose feeds or selfies.