Love is Surfin’ USA (Basketball)
July 21, 2010 • Las Vegas, Nev.
Kevin Love has seen what it takes to be among the best all of his young life. The 21-year-old from Oregon comes from an impressive family who excels at a wide variety of things. His father, Stan Love, played for the LA Lakers and Washington Bullets; his aunt, Kathleen McCartney, is in the U.S. Triathlon Hall of Fame and won the 1982 Ironman Triathlon, and he grew up listening to his uncle, Mike Love, who headed up the Beach Boys.
So it’s no surprise that Kevin Love is in Las Vegas this week, competing among the best of the best as a member of the 2010 USA Basketball Men’s National Team. Love is hoping to secure a spot on the 2010 USA World Championship squad and play for his country again. His first time donning a USA Basketball jersey was as a senior in high school as a member of the 2007 USA Junior National Select Team that defeated a World Select Team in the 10th annual Nike Hoop Summit. The three-time Oregon Player of the Year score 13 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had two blocks as the U.S. collected the 100-80 win.
After spending a year at UCLA, Love was drafted No. 5 by the Minnesota Timberwolves, trading his flip-flops for snow boots. In just his second season, Love averaged a double-double for the Timberwolves and was rewarded for his hard work by being named to the 2010-12 USA Basketball Men’s National Team.
USABasketball.com caught up with Love prior to the USA team’s second practice to find out how things were going for him this year.
How have you spent your time from the end the regular season until now?
Love: “I have been playing a little golf. I have been training and really trying to get ready for USA Basketball and get ready for the road ahead with the Timberwolves as well.”
How is your golf game?
Love: “It’s just ok. I’m not one of the guys who is a scratch golfer and I don’t really know my handicap. I like to go out there and just relax. It’s a mental game so it could help me a little bit.”
What is your personal evaluation of your first two years in the NBA?
Love: “I think it’s coming along pretty well. My rookie year I got up to playing 20 to 25 minutes a game and I learned a lot. Obviously I had to carry the bags and get the coffee. It took me from the top of the food chain at UCLA to the bottom of the food chain in NBA aspects.
“My first year helped prepare me for my second year with preparation for training camp as far as strength and conditioning. Coming in ready to go and really not peaking yet but being in great shape. Also, being adjusted to playing back to back nights, 82 games and going out and giving 100% effort every night.”
Talk about your admiration of former head coach Kevin McHale and current head coach Kurt Rambis.
Love: “I admired both their games growing up. More so Kevin McHale, because he had so many moves. He played with so many great players at Boston. They were very fun to watch and so were the ‘Showtime’ Lakers. I get to learn from both of them and they have both taught me a lot.”
Who was your role model or idol growing up that you wanted to pattern your game after?
Love: “I think Kevin McHale was basically it. Charles Barkley was undersized but used his body extremely well. Karl Malone was another one. I’d say I grew up watching three or four guys, studying tape of and trying to emulate.”
What do you expect from the Minnesota Timberwolves next season?
Love: “I expect us to win more than 15 games I will tell you that. We have a really young nucleus but we have a ton of cap space. Our highest paid player I believe is Mike Beasley around $5 million a year. The next few years we could make a lot of moves and improvements. I’m hoping we win 30-plus games this year.”
What is your favorite NBA arena on the road to play in?
Love: “My favorite NBA arena other than the Target Center has to be Madison Square Garden. It’s right up there since it’s the Mecca of basketball. It’s right in the heart of New York City. The United Center in Chicago is great and also when you play the Lakers or Clippers in Los Angeles at Staples Center it is unbelievable.”
Was there one particular moment in your brief career that you will never forget?
Love: “Definitely my first game as a pro. Going out there and making my first shot (offensive rebound and put back for a basket off a free throw miss). Getting my first couple rebounds. I believe we won that game against Sacramento. My whole family was there watching me play. That was fun.”
What would it mean to you to make this team and represent the country in the World Championship?
Love: It would be huge to make the USA Basketball team. Being able to play in Turkey with this caliber of players and coaches is exciting and just being chosen by Jerry Colangelo to be here is a tremendous honor. Wearing that ‘USA’ across your chest and playing for your country is something special and it’s something I hope to do in the near future.