Kevin Love posts heartfelt Instagram tribute to 'best teammate I've ever had'

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Kevin Love has had to endure more than his fair share of criticism since arriving at the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2014.

Even during the Cavs' successful 2016 Playoffs run, the former Minnesota Timberwolves star was being set up as the scapegoat by some section of the NBA world who questioned his fit in Cleveland.

Love managed to put those doubts aside, however, to help bring his franchise their first ever NBA title. Now, taking to Instagram, he has posted a heartfelt message crediting one teammate in particular - "the best teammate I've ever had" - with helping him through the tough times.

As part of the Cavaliers 'Big Three', you might think Love would single out LeBron James or Kyrie Irving, both of whom were in inspired form during the team's 4-3 series win over the Golden State Warriors in the recent Finals. 

However, the man Love took time out to thank played just 55 minutes in Cleveland's entire postseason run. He might not have made much of an impact on the court, but James Jones clearly played his role away from the hardwood:

As you can see, Love appears indebted to the help and support he received from the highly respected veteran.

"You taught me more than you know the past 2 years - what it takes to win, how to be a better teammate, how to balance the good/bad off the court, and most importantly...putting team first," the newly crowned NBA champion wrote.

"The lessons you taught me will stay with me for the rest of my career and life after basketball.

"No one can avoid the ups and downs of the Playoffs, and when many wrote me off after a tough stretch in the Finals… you and the team stuck by me allowing me to flourish and make plays when it mattered most."

While the likes of LeBron, Kyrie and Love will always generate the majority of headlines due to their on-court performances and big money contracts, the multi-time All-Star's comments are a reminder of the key role played by the less prominent members of any title-winning roster.

The experience of players like Jones and fellow veteran Richard Jefferson can be a key factor when it comes to the crunch in the NBA, and their words of wisdom can be invaluable.

Their impact behind the scenes can be the difference between winning and losing. Clearly, Kevin Love knows that, and he wanted the rest of the world to know it too.

Eastern Conference
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Kevin Love

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