Sports Strength

NBA Highlights From December 27th-January 2nd

The last week of 2021 gave NBA teams a unique opportunity to finish strong before aiming for a strong start in the New Year of 2022. As we approach the halfway point of this regular season in a matter of weeks, the action will intensify amongst teams determined to build their momentum further or drastically improve their situation. Down below are my four takeaways from the NBA’s latest week in action.

DeMar DeRozan should be on your MVP ballot

Even with fans and media members quick to name the usual candidates for this year’s MVP award (I.E., Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry, to name a couple), their dialogue lacks something if DeRozan isn’t mentioned. The multi-time All-Star has not only led the Chicago Bulls to the first seed in the Eastern Conference, but he’s easily the NBA’s most clutch player right now.

During the same week, DeRozan became the first player in league history to make game-winners on consecutive days; he averaged 28 points, six assists, and four rebounds per game during the Bulls’ ongoing seven-game winning streak.

Ja Morant’s leap into superstardom is happening

While some may have expected this to happen, it doesn’t make it less exciting than it is. In Morant’s third NBA season, he is taking that leap into superstardom which consists of a career-best production, team success, and signature moments that could make him a dark-horse MVP candidate this season.

To conclude 2021, we watched the former second overall pick outduel LeBron James two days after making a game-winning shot against the 28-8 Phoenix Suns on the road.

To say Jalen Smith has potential is an understatement

Even though the Phoenix Suns found a successful big man in Deandre Ayton (Selected first in the 2018 Draft), it was a rare bit of success for a team who has failed multiple times when looking for high-quality big men. But that could change again with the pending emergence of Jalen Smith.

The second-year power forward, who is thriving as a center at the moment, gives the Suns another very athletic and flexible big man to play regardless of Ayton’s availability. Over his past four games, Smith has averaged 16 points and ten rebounds per game while playing less than 30 minutes each game.

Kevin Love is turning back the hands of time

After months of hearing about a potential breakup with the Cleveland Cavaliers and having a slow start to this season, Love is back to playing at the level one would expect from a multi-time All-Star and Olympic Gold Medalist. Throughout December, Love averaged 17 points and over seven rebounds per game, but he’s entering the new year amid his best stretch in a long time.

Over his last five games, Love averaged 25 points and eight rebounds per game, including his 35-point and 11 rebounds performance against the Atlanta Hawks on New Year’s Eve. Love’s reemergence is a welcomed sight for a Cavs team that needs all contributions as they compete for a playoff berth.

Style What To Buy

Kevin Love Is Having a Very Well-Dressed Offseason

If you needed any indicator as to exactly when NBA All-Star Kevin Love began to rise through the ranks of fashion’s elite, look no further than early 2016 in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room. Love, who was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Cavs back in 2014, began playing alongside LeBron James in 2016 when James opted out of his Miami Heat contract to return home in hopes of bringing the city a long-awaited NBA championship. 

James—who is, without question, one of the best-dressed players in the league—walked into somewhat of a style onslaught given his teammates: Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson, Kyrie Irving and JR Smith. Love’s style was a bit left of his counterparts. Certainly not worse, just…well, more conservative. There was nothing flashy about it. To his credit, Love was extravagantly classic. And when the team began taking postgame photos in the locker room showing off their nightly fits, Love initially wasn’t in them. 

Following some playful back-and-forth on Instagram demanding that Love be included, soon enough he would be, beaming from ear to ear while his teammates gave their best ice grill to the camera. It was a comedic matrimony. And, ironically, it was indicative of just how well-dressed Love was—in a completely different way than his teammates.

The UCLA alum’s style is aspirational yet far from overt. It’s this unique blend of old Hollywood meets modern Americana. Love’s long, bulky frame wears everything well. He combines multiple sections of fashion by just wearing what he deems appropriate at the moment. Be it sweats and a tee or a tailored Ralph Lauren suit, Love appears immaculately groomed, whether he’s trying to be or he’s just simply being himself.

Kevin Love in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Without pause, this summer has been Love’s most daring offseason. The confidence he exudes with each look is palpable. Take his summer trip with girlfriend Kate Bock to Jackson Hole, the gaping Wyoming mountain range now frequented by Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and just about everyone else who wants to stunt by going to the one place their friend group hasn’t been yet. Love fully embraced the “Old Town Road” lifestyle surrounding him, donning wide-brim hats, an abundance of flannel and enough denim to make even the truest Canadian jealous. Big belt buckles were also a thing, be they ever so embellished. Even bigger than Love’s buckle was his killer mustache. Maybe it was the horses and stables or the hats and boots, but his larger-than-life ‘stache never felt more at home than on this range in Jackson Hole.

Kevin Love at Ralph Lauren, New York Fashion Week

Some NBA stars very publicly spend their summers on the Fashion Week circuit. From New York to Paris and Milan, you can find a few of the league’s brightest stars sitting front row at shows where even fashion industry insiders have a hard time getting seats. Love is often among those near seven-footers in the front row fabulously obstructing everyone’s view. And as a longtime fan of Ralph Lauren, the famed designer’s presentation was one Love had to attend. He wore custom-fitted Ralph Lauren, continuing a long tradition of designers gifting their personal guests unreleased or out-of-season garments for the show. 

Love wears a decadent white dinner jacket coupled with a timeless black bowtie and matching tuxedo trousers. See, Love originally became enamored with fashion through classic cinema. Bond flicks, Hitchcock films, westerns and just about anything starring Cary Grant. His Ralph Lauren look taps into his heroes from the silver screen. Love also claims to have every Polo bear sweater—because of course he does.

Whether doing his best Doc Holliday impersonation at Jackson Hole or besting Ralph Lauren himself at his own show, Love has a versatility that places him high above many of his peers. He has an ability to do something only Kevin Love would do and have it be great, like earlier this summer when he cut the sleeves off his neon “Shoot Hoops, Not People” tee that he wore with Off-White x Nike Prestos. At its core, this was a workout fit, but it bellowed at a much higher volume.

If nothing else, Love is proof that good style comes largely from dressing for how you feel.

Related: Kevin Love Is a Mental Health Pioneer

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