Love a legitimate MVP candidate

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Love a legitimate MVP candidate

MINNEAPOLIS Every year, there are clear-cut favorites for the NBA's MVP race.

This year, you have the likes of defending league MVP Derrick Rose of Chicago, Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, Miami's LeBron James and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, in the mix.

But as the season progresses, there's usually one player who comes out of nowhere and enters the MVP conversation.

Minnesota's Kevin Love is that player.

The numbers he's putting up this year - 26.3 points and 13.9 rebounds per game - aren't just good.

They are the kind of numbers we haven't seen in decades.

The last player to finish a season with that many points and that many rebounds per game was Moses Malone in 1982, which just so happened to be one of the years in which Malone was named league MVP.

But there's one difference between what Malone did and what Love is doing now.

That team Malone played for, went to the postseason.

The Timberwolves (25-27) are currently 2.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"The window's closing," said Love, referring to the Timberwolves' postseason hopes. "So we definitely have to try and win a large majority of these games."

As much as Love would love the focus for Friday's game to be on the Timberwolves and their chances at making the playoffs, it was another Kevin - Garnett, the former Minnesota star - whose return had the place buzzing.

With Love's play catapulting him to young superstar status, the comparisons abound between him and Garnett, the last young superstar in the Twin Cities.

You can count Love among those who grew up a fan of Kevin Garnett when he played in Minnesota.

"I was a jersey owner of Garnett back in the day," Love admitted. "Him and Tim Duncan those type of guys; those are guys I looked up to when I was very young; guys still in this league I'm fortunate enough to play against. It's a dream come true for me, but at the end of the day I know I have to come out and help my team win a basketball game by any means."

Aside from having the same first name, Love doesn't believe there's a lot in common with his game and Garnett's style of play.

"It's really an unfair comparison," Love said. "He's a once-in-a-lifetime type player. If I can do some of the things he did for this franchise, it would be nice. But more than anything, I want to win. And he brought a lot of winning years to this franchise. More than anything, hopefully I can emulate that."

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Among the reactions to the news that Bobby Valentine was possibly being considered to be the US amassador to Japan in President Donald Trump’s administration was this beauty from Kevin Youkilis. 

Valentine famously called out Youkilis early in his stormy tenure as Red Sox manager in 2012. Remember? "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Bobby V said of Youk at the time. 

The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the White Sox for two not-future Hall of Famers, outfielder Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, later that season.

Youkilis, now Tom Brady’s brother-in-law by the way, had a 21-game stint playing in Japan in 2014 before retiring from baseball. 

 

Mitchell rising fast but somehow totally unaware of fantasy football

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Mitchell rising fast but somehow totally unaware of fantasy football

FOXBORO -- It seems unlikely that a 23-year-old who has spent much of his life around sports would be unaware of how fantasy football works. But Malcolm Mitchell insisted on Friday that he was that 23-year-old. 

Over the last seven days, Mitchell has been the second-most added player in ESPN.com fantasy leagues behind only Steelers tight end Ladarius Green. The rookie wideout went undrafted in many fantasy leagues before the start of the regular season, but his production has spiked over the last three weeks making him one of a hot commodity for people headed into the fantasy playoffs.

In wins over the Niners, Jets and Rams, Mitchell has caught 17 passes for 222 yards and three scores. 

"I have family members mention it, but I never know what they're talking about," Mitchell said when asked if he was asked about his newfound popularity among fans of fantasy football. "I'm not sure how that works. If someone said it, I'd probably have no idea what it means."

A fewer lockers down from Mitchell is the stall of rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who cut into Mitchell's back-and-forth with reporters joking, "I've got him on my team!"

Mitchell's confusion over the phenomenon that is fantasy football seemed to be genuine as he asked questions about how teams operate and what fantasy free-agency means. 

Those who've picked him up probably don't mind that Mitchell is in the dark on the subject -- and the same goes for the Patriots coaching staff, it's safe to assume -- as long as he continues to do his job as well as he's done it in recent weeks.