Kevin Love has already accomplished plenty during his NBA career. He’s a five-time All-Star, Olympic gold medalist, two-time Second Team All-NBA, 3-Point Champion and rebounding leader.  He carries a label that can never be stripped: NBA champion, helping the Cleveland Cavaliers cap their historic comeback against the Golden State Warriors, stifling Stephen Curry in the closing moments of Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals — a portrait that has been memorialized throughout Cleveland’s transformed arena.

Now 31, Love is entering the next chapter of his career, armed with scars that show where’s been and what he’s endured — physically and mentally — during 11 NBA seasons. The days of retreating into the shadows of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, embracing the vital role of Cleveland’s third wheel during a four-year Eastern Conference procession, are over.  He’s no longer the willing follower. He’s the quiet leader. While rumors constantly fly about his future, Love is exactly where he wants to be, where he chose to be two summers ago.  He has no interest in that changing.

“I do want to be here. I always have,” Love told in an exclusive one-on-one interview. “I say that knowing it’s the NBA and it’s a business. I think especially after seeing last year, the summer leading up to last year and this summer, the changeover is like unprecedented so you don’t know what is going to happen.

“If they decide to go completely young … and that could be the case, but it’s funny, my agent didn’t call me one time this summer to say, ‘Hey, you’re getting traded, there’s talks that this is happening.’ Of course, somehow it’s still out there and people are talking about, ‘Oh, Kevin would be great here or great there.’ I just keep it moving and try to do right by these guys because we have a good group.”

story by