In our continuing series here at PTU on "What if one guy were a different race than he actually is?", that was started with the photoshopriffic "What if Jeremy Lin were black?", today we will pose the question "What if Kevin Love were Black?". Bottle brought up the controversial theory that Kevin gets no love because of plain old racism. The mainstream sports media and casual NBA fans really don't pay too much attention to him, and despite his monstrous numbers (he puts up a double double in his sleep and routinely puts up 30/20 games. His last couple games he's averaging 40 points and 14 rebounds)Love is still seen as a second tier star in the NBA, with no sneaker deal and barely a commercial to his name. Is this because he's a Caucasian in the league that some people have nicknamed "Nothing but Africans"? (Not me but some people). I'd say- like I usually do- yes and no.
It's true that the attention Love draws is very disproportionate to his skills and stats. Part of that might be because he's White, but mostly it's a geographical and stylistic distinction that sets him apart. Love plays in Minnesota. Nobody cares about anything that happens in Minnesota, unless you're a dynamic, screaming douche bag like Kevin Garnett or an established superstar like Brett Favre. Just like Jeremy Lin benefits from playing in the world's largest market, Love suffers from playing in the middle of nowhere. Put Love on the Knicks or the Lakers and he would be a household name, if not a superstar. Another reason for his relative obscurity is he plays for the Timberwolves, an up and coming team in the league with a great young nucleus, but still a mediocre squad. If they were winning 50 games a year the past couple years or were tearing the league up this season (and not just treading water) his status would certainly see an uptick. There's a long history of great players (at least statistically) of all races who have languished on mediocre to bad teams in small markets for years that didn't receive much recognition. Think of Kevin Martin, Shareef Adur Rahim, Rudy Gay, guys like that. Granted, none of them put up numbers as good as Love, but they all have been or are solid players that no one has heard of thanks to where they play and their teams' mediocrity.
But what if a black guy named Kevin Love (and names don't get too much blacker than Kevin Love which sounds like a late night DJ on Kiss FM) played for Minnesota and averaged 23 and 14? I don't think it would make much of a difference unless he played with some more flash, dunked more and with more style, had some more swag and played more, well, Black. No one likes to admit it but Love plays kinda like a White guy. He shoots outside jumpers, does dirty work inside, and many games will not dunk at all. And while he might have, at one point in his career, rocked a Color Me Baddesque goatee, he now sports a grizzly, lumberjack, white man beard. He has no tattoos, doesn't talk a lot of trash or have a signature celebration move, and rarely, if ever, wears big ugly black rimmed glasses. His uncle was in the Beach Boys, for Christ's sakes. The guy is as White as Barkley's wife. Unfortunately for Kev, this means he gets the usual white guy descriptions from white guy media members: he works harder than everyone else, he's a gym rat, he's deceptively quick at times. Well, maybe not that one, he really is slow. So the fact that he's White isn't a detriment to his fame as much as the fact that he plays really White. Combine that with where he plays and the level of team he plays for, and no amount of three point contest wins (a White guy contest if ever there were one) will elevate him to LeBron and Kobe status without a change of scenery and maybe a little more swag in his game.
Stay tuned for more exciting race switching PTU articles such as: What if JR Smith were Korean? What if Rex Ryan were Muslim? What if Chris Paul were Dominican? What if Mike D'Antoni was gay? What if Ricky Rubio were Jamaican? And (this one will surely be controversial): What if Amare Stoudemire were a midget?