Kevin Love posted a USA Olympic basketball team photo on Twitter in July and jokingly posed the question, "Who's the white dude????" Love also said in jest on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" that he made Team USA because "they always need at least one token white guy."
Now, Love is getting those jokes in reverse as the star of the Minnesota Timberwolves, one of the whitest teams seen in the NBA in years.
"Most of the [Olympic] team was giving me a hard time about being the only white guy and it was really light," Love told Yahoo! Sports. "I'd throw it right back at them. Here on this team a lot of people have said we look like the old Boston Celtics teams or the old Minneapolis Lakers …
"Bill Russell said back in the day about the Boston Celtics that they could play two black players at home, three when they were away and five when they were behind. With this team, we can play four white guys when we are at home, three when we are away and one when we are behind. That's my little joke."
The NBA has been an predominatly black league for decades. The truth about today's Wolves is they have a melting-pot roster that opened the season with five white Americans, four non-black Europeans, four African-Americans and one Hispanic. The Wolves recently moved up to five African-Americans with the addition of Josh Howard.
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The joking stops for Love when the notion comes that the rebuilding Wolves tailored their roster that way to be more attractive to the city and state they play in. Since no other NBA team has as much white or European representation on their roster, there has been speculation that the Timberwolves did it on purpose. (The state of Minnesota was 85.3 percent white in 2010 and 63.8 percent white in Minneapolis, according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau.)
The two-time All-Star pointed out that the Wolves tried to land Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum (black Frenchman) and Los Angeles Lakers forward-center Jordan Hill (African-American) in the offseason.
"It's just all circumstance," Love said. "All of our players aren't American-born either. Of course, people are going to look at it and say we have a ton of white players. I just think it's all circumstance. When people look at it like that, it's an ignorant way to look at that.
"Minneapolis is definitely predominantly white. I know from reading articles people say, 'Oh they might want to do that because of the marketplace because most of the fans are white.' From the business side of things I don't think that's how [Wolves owner] Glen Taylor or [general manager] David Kahn were looking at things."
The NBA was 78 percent black during the 2011-12 season, according to Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. The report says 17 percent of the players were from international countries and 82 percent were people of color.
Because Love has publicly made light of the lack of white players in basketball, he says young aspiring white players have felt comfortable talking to him about it.
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"I don't know what the percentage of white American players are in the league or white American starters," Love said. "My guess is there are not a lot of them. The league has been predominantly black for a while. But as European players have become better and better and integrated themselves into the league more it might have taken up spots where white American players would have been before.
"It's just the way the game is. I've never and a lot of people in my position who are coaching or covering the game I don't think have ever looked at it that way just because we've never really known anything else."
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