CLEVELAND — Kevin Love spoke from his heart. Over 13 minutes, he apologized, lectured and asked for forgiveness and understanding.

He regrets his fit of frustration but said it shouldn’t define him.

“That wasn’t me,” Love said. “I apologize for that moment. It was an ugly one. It was one that was not ill-intentioned.”

The five-time All-Star apologized Wednesday for his on-court tantrum two days ago in a game against Toronto, saying his behavior was out of line and out of character – but that it had nothing to do with any frustration toward his teammates or coaches.

Love did not take any questions from reporters after speaking passionately about the incident, using the Zoom call as what he called a “therapy session” to express his feelings about dealing with an injury this season, and his leadership role in Cleveland and continued struggle with mental health.

“I (messed) up,” Love said, using an expletive to open his remarks. “Everyone knows that. My intent wasn’t to disrespect the game, my intent wasn’t even for the damn ball to go inbounds. It was a moment that I got caught up in.”

Late in the third quarter against Toronto, a frustrated Love, who was upset with the officials for some non-calls, angrily tapped the ball back into play on an inbounds pass. The loose ball was grabbed by the Raptors, who made a 3-pointer and went on to win 112-96.

Video of the tantrum went viral on social media, and Love was blistered by fans and media for behavior called “childish” and “unacceptable.”

Love took exception to some of the criticism, saying he felt aspects of his behavior were “a little blown out of proportion.”

“I just hope that you judge my character, judge me as a man,” said Love, who helped the Cavaliers win an NBA title in 2016 and signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension two years later. “I mean, the basketball stuff, you can crush me, you can kill me by any means, I’ll take that on the chin all day.

“I don’t care. I love this game. I’ll always love this game. I hope I can play as many years as I possibly can.”

Coach J.B. Bickerstaff called Love’s actions a “lapse in judgment.”

Before Wednesday’s game, Bickerstaff said he had spoken to Love, who is in his seventh season with Cleveland.

“He owned up to it. He held himself accountable,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s what I expected from Kevin. I had a long conversation with Kevin this morning, and Kevin had a long conversation with his teammates this morning.”

Love said he didn’t realize how bad the incident looked until after the game and he felt embarrassed and ashamed.

“I believe that we have to be better and especially me being a leader, I have to be better,” he said. “But I know that I’m a good human being. I know in some cases that I’m misunderstood. And that’s fine.”

The Cavaliers were missing seven players with injuries for the game, and Love’s outburst only compounded things for a young team stumbling to the season’s end. Cleveland is 21-40.

Love said he has only respect for Bickerstaff and his teammates. He believes they’ve accepted his apology knowing how hard he has worked this season to come back from a calf injury that sidelined him for two months.

“I’ll ride or die for J.B. and our coaching staff, and I’ll ride or die for our young guys, even when I’m giving 60%, 70% of myself up right now because I’m still getting over the hump with my injury. But, if you’re not in the arena, and getting your (behind) kicked a lot of the time, I don’t care about your opinion.

“I don’t care about how you feel about me, or what you see in me. What matters to me is the opinion of my teammates, and how they feel about me, and how everybody in this organization feels about me.

“So, I live at peace, knowing that they think highly of me, and I think highly of them.”


76ERS 127, HAWKS 83: Seth Curry scored 20 points, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid each added 17 and Philadelphia built a big early lead and cruised past visiting Atlanta to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff berth.

Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz scored 12 apiece and Tyrese Maxey added 11 for the Sixers, who became the second team in the Eastern Conference to secure a postseason spot. The Sixers are currently second in the East, a game behind Brooklyn and 2 1/2 games ahead of third-place Milwaukee with 10 games to play.

MAGIC 109, CAVALIERS 104: Cole Anthony made the tie-breaking layup with 45 seconds left, and Orlando squandered a 23-point lead before edging host Cleveland and snapping a six-game losing streak.

Gary Harris had 19 points, six rebounds and seven assists for Orlando, which won for the second time in 14 games and pulled into a tie with Detroit for the worst record in the East.

KNICKS 113, BULLS 94: Julius Randle scored 34 points and host New York beat Chicago for its 10th win in 11 games.

RJ Barrett added 22 points as New York bounced back from its loss to Phoenix that snapped a nine-game winning streak. Immanuel Quickley and Reggie Bullock each scored 13 points as the Knicks regained sole possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Nikola Vucevic had 26 points and 18 rebounds for Chicago.

WIZARDS 116, LAKERS 107: Still missing LeBron James, visiting Los Angeles lost for the fourth time in its past five games was Washington won with Bradley Beal’s 27 points and Russell Westbrook’s 13th triple-double in April.

Washington has won 9 of 10, led by its dynamic duo of Beal and Westbrook, who finished with 18 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists. That extends his NBA record for most triple-doubles in a month and gives him 30 for the season and 176 for his career, just five away from Oscar Robertson’s career mark.

HEAT 116, SPURS 111: Jimmy Butler scored 29 points, Bam Adebayo scored 21 and host Miami went on a 17-0 run in the second half before hanging on late to beat San Antonio.

It was the 600th regular-season win for Erik Spoelstra, making him the 27th coach in NBA history to win that many and just the sixth coach to do so with one franchise.

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