INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Kyle Korver said he contemplated retirement this summer following an incredibly difficult few months on and off the court.
“I was done,” Korver said Monday afternoon at Media Day. “I was just done. I took a good chunk of time and kind of got away from the game and really evaluated a lot of things and tried to decide if I still had the desire to play. Talking to my wife, my family, look at my kids, you know, we didn’t really talk it through anything yet, but just tried to get a good feel for where they’re at in life and after doing all that, I wanted to come back and I still wanted to play, still love the game and so I’m excited to be back.”
Korver was in a dark place by the end of the season. He left the locker room immediately after Game 4 of the NBA Finals and didn’t speak to anyone, something he apologized for during his session with reporters on Monday. But it was easy to see the pain on his face. His hurt didn’t stem from getting swept either. It wasn’t even about a rocky season that tested everybody.
It was deeper than that. Much deeper.
In late March, his brother, Kirk, passed away suddenly, leading to Korver stepping away from the team briefly. He returned for the final few games of the regular season, getting back in time to help the Cavaliers’ championship chase. Only he was never really himself.
On the court he was still bombing 3-pointers and providing a lift off the bench. But each day was an emotional battle.
After some heart-to-heart chats with his family, Korver determined he was ready to come back, ready to take on this new challenge.
“I think really I needed to have the blessing of my wife and family,” Korver said. “You guys hear this too, surely, you’re schedules are tough as well and the older I get, there’s a family cost to continuing to play. It’s a real thing. So once I felt like my family was in a spot where, even though we went through what we went through, we’re good, we can keep going, that gave me the freedom to really decide for myself if I still love the game or not, if I wanted to put the work in. I don’t want to just come here and just be around. I want to come here and work, play well, make shots, win games. It’s a lot but once my family was good, shortly after that, I still have the desire.”
Korver will be looked at as one of the veteran leaders now. His non-stop movement will give the Cavaliers a new dimension on the offensive end as they attempt to steer away from the isolation-heavy approach that was so successful the last four seasons.
It’s hard to know exactly how long it will take. Korver and the players won’t put a timetable on it. But with a clear mind and a fresh perspective, Korver is back to play his role, one that may be even bigger than it’s been in past years.
“I don’t want to like point fingers at why someone is not something or why someone wasn’t what they were before and it’s just a bad thing to get sucked into,” Korver said. “I think things are invented when there is a need. We come up with stuff when we need that thing. I think we’re going to need to find scoring, we’re going to need to find playmaking, we’re going to need to find how we are going to score in the last two minutes of the game and we’re going to to need to find all those things. When you have that need to find it you figure it out.
“I think there are several guys who are obviously, when there was one of those moments the last few years, we went to LeBron because we were supposed to go to LeBron and because anyone with LeBron on their team would go to LeBron. Now there is an opportunity for new and think there are definitely guys who haven’t had any experience that LeBron has had in those moments. But are capable. No one is LeBron, but we get create a new identity and expand our games because there is a need. For us as players that’s exciting.”