INDEPENDENCE — For close to a month now, a grieving Kyle Korver has wanted to play basketball with as much fervor and passion as he possibly can.
That will happen tonight at Quicken Loans Arena when the Cavaliers swingman takes the floor for Game 2 of a first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.
Since the sudden death of 27-year-old brother Kirk on March 21 and the funeral six days later, Korver has longed to compete like crazy, work up a great sweat and escape from life for a while, but recurring right foot soreness has rarely allowed that to happen.
The foot’s better now and the cough and cold that kept him out of practice Monday are under control, so Korver is ready to give it his all, whether that means coming off the bench like he did Sunday in a 98-80 loss in Game 1, when coach Tyronn Lue curiously used him for just the final 3:38 of the first quarter, or possibly moving back into the starting lineup for Rodney Hood.
“It’s good to go back into work,” the 37-year-old said Tuesday following practice. “It’s good to have something else to do, something to really try at, too. That’s been the frustrating thing with my foot. I couldn’t go and just play really hard.
“That’s what I want to do, just play really hard. Whether it’s good or bad, I just want to play really hard. I couldn’t. I haven’t been able to. But it’s good to have something now to kind of sink into, just for a little bit every day, to get lost in.”
Korver appeared in Cleveland’s first 68 games and had just moved into the starting lineup when he missed a game on March 17 — his birthday — after the youngest of his three brothers became ill. Korver returned to start one game, then missed five more after his brother died and two others when he experienced foot soreness upon returning to the team.
The 6-foot-7, 212-pounder came back to play in four games off the bench, then sat out the regular-season finale as a precaution.
“It has been quite a month for me personally,” he said. “It’s going to get better.”
Korver, who called his foot soreness “a really deep bruise” and said “it’s hard for it to heal when you’re pounding on it constantly,” is still trying to balance his love for basketball with the grieving process he is going through.
“You hold that in one hand,” he said of the grieving, “and you hold the playoffs here in another hand. It’s interesting to balance both of those at the same time and try to get yourself ready to play basketball.
“Then I’ve been hurt. It’s been a very complicated month in my mind. I feel like I’m in a good spot right now. I’m ready to play.”
Korver, who spoke with media members for almost 10 minutes following practice, stopped several times to collect his thoughts while openly discussing all the things that have occupied his mind since his brother died following a sudden illness.
“I have strong faith and I have a strong family. I have a great wife who I can process things and talk about things and cry about things and be encouraged about things (with),” he said of parents Kevin and Laine, brothers Klayton and Kaleb and wife Juliet Richardson.
“My grieving process, what is good? What is good? That you don’t cry? That you don’t think about your brother? Is that good? I don’t think that’s good. I think I’m on a good spot on this path. I feel like I’m trying to go through all the emotions and stages and waves that people tell me about. I understand this is part of life.
“When you go through something like this, it’s amazing how many people come up to you and talk about their own stories that they’ve had. There’s been so many. While they’re hard to hear, it’s also very comforting to know you’re going through something and a lot of people care about you.”
Korver, who averaged 9.2 points in the regular season and ranked sixth in the league in 3-point percentage (.436), heard from “a ton of people in the basketball world,” praised the Cavs organization for its understanding and thanked the numerous teams and players from around the league that sent notes, cards or flowers.
“I got text messages I think from almost everyone in the NBA,” he said. “It was overwhelming. It was incredible. The team here has been great. I can’t say enough about all of that. The list is very long. It’s been really, really cool.”
In the days following his brother’s March 27 funeral, Korver shared a video on social media that showed him eulogizing Kirk — “You will always have four sons,” he told his parents through tears — and received overwhelmingly positive feedback.
“If your brother has to die, you want something good to come from it all,” he said Tuesday. “It will take a long time to see the good that comes from that. I don’t know if I have the head space right now to think about that.”
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