We didn’t have enough room to post our entire chat with Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love in the April issue, but you can read the rest right here. Click the “More” button to see Love’s extended thoughts on his first All-Star weekend, playing one-on-one against his NBA dad and how he maintained his double-double streak for so long.
How has your life changed since you made the All-Star team?
I still feel like the same person. Obviously, it was a great experience. Nobody can ever take away being an All-Star from me. I came back here. I was treated the same. I’ve lived the same life. I’m more than happy with that.
What were your emotions like as you checked in to play in the All-Star game?
The adrenaline was 10 out of 10. It was one of those moments where you had to pinch yourself and say, “Man, is this real?” That’s when it really set in, “I’m in the All-Star game.” The bright lights, looking around, seeing all the celebrities. All my family and friends were there. A lot of peers from UCLA. For me, it was a big-time moment in my life and I’m very, very hungry to get back there on a consistent basis.
Is it difficult to play your game when you’re experiencing all of that emotion?
A little bit. I was pretty winded the first couple trips up and down the court just because my adrenaline was so high. But I calmed down, got to play my game a little bit. You know big men those games, they don’t get many shots and many opportunities to score, so I was just happy that I got on the board and got a couple rebounds, got a couple assists. I was fine with the way I played.
Do you think you can change that, get the big men more shine in future All-Star games?
[Laughs] Trying to. Maybe just get it off the glass and take it myself. Other than that, it’s tough to get the ball because it’s such an up-and-down game and guard-dominated game. You just have to hit the glass and get it yourself.
Did you get to meet any of your idols? What was that like?
I didn’t get a chance to meet Moses Malone, but another guy I got to meet was Kevin Willis. You know, he played 21 years in the league, for a few teams. He’s a guy who put up a tremendous amount of 20-20s and big time scoring games and big time rebounding games. I really enjoyed talking to him and getting to know him a little bit.
He’s huge. What was his handshake like?
I was explaining the handshake to a lot of people. It was a tight grip. I had to play in the game the next day and his grip was strong. He’s a tree. I asked him, “How did you stay in the league that long? How did you take care of your body in the off-season?” He’s old school, he just said, “Eat that iron. Make sure you get in the weight room and just stay on that iron.” I thought that was words of wisdom right there.
Did you meet any other idols?
Moses was the guy I wanted to meet, but I couldn’t find him over the weekend. He’s definitely a guy I tried to emulate. He was the last player to average 20-15. So I’m in pretty good company with Moses.
What was the most memorable moment for you from the entire All-Star Weekend?
I think it was really just everything from start to finish. The entire weekend was just a great time being there with my family and friends. If I were to pick out one thing, it had to be the game itself. That’s what everything the entire weekend is leading up to.
How do you think the experience will shape your career going forward?
It just made me thirsty to get back there. I want to be an All-Star for many years to come. I think it’s going to increase my work ethic and help me to want to be better and want to be great and want high team success too. One thing I took from that, looking around, all those guys there are winners and want to be great as well.
What part of your game are you working on the most right now?
In the off-season, there will be a few things to refine. Get in the weight room, hit the iron. Other than that, I’m just trying to refine my game. Last year I took my outside shot to a whole new level through the off-season and playing with the World Championship team and training camp. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m going to have to implement a thing or two into my game and perfect that.
What’s it going to take to make the Timberwolves a playoff team?
We’re just going to have to get older. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. We have a lot of youth on our side. We all need to grow together. But also, we need some veteran guys as well. We have another draft, we have to draft well and use our cap space. It’s kind of a match problem out there. It’s obviously tough to get better and it’s not going to happen overnight, but if we keep working hard and stick with the guys we have now and add an addition of a few other players, hopefully we’ll be there sooner rather than later.
What was going through your head during your 30-30 game?
You can get in a rhythm rebounding and that’s what I did that night. Getting a lot of tip-ins and the points caught up to the rebounds and it just kind of worked out that way. Nothing was really going through my head other than that. We were down 15-20 points, for me, I was just trying to make something good happen in the game. No particular mindset, just the one I have every night.
Some shooters say they can get in the zone for a night, do you feel like you can get in a zone like that for rebounding?
Definitely. Sometimes, the balls just come your way and others, you have to fight for. But if you can get into a rhythm of knowing where that ball is going to come off, I feel like you can definitely get into a rhythm and I think that’s been proven a couple different times with me this year.
You’ve had a couple of crazy stat lines this year. Are you aware of your stats in a game like that? What about the double-double streak?
It just happens. I’m not really trying to pay attention to it too much. I just keep fighting and working hard and take advantage of the opportunity. Rebounding, I just go after every single one, so those are all going to add up. And I’m an opportunity scorer, a lot of my baskets are out of the confines of the offense and that’s just how I score. I’m not going out of my way to put up huge stats, I’m just going out there and playing.
What’s the most important factor in rebounding?
A few things. My dad always told me there’s no such thing as a selfish rebound. If you have to steal it from the other team or steal it from a teammate, you have to do what you have to do. But you’re helping your team win either way. Also, you have to assume everything is a miss. Obviously, to be a good rebounder, you have to have a decent knack for the ball, but if you assume everything’s a miss, more often than not, if you’re around the rim and you’re fighting for it, you’re going to end up getting it. I’d say, just have a hard work ethic at both ends of the floor. If you do that, and you position yourself and use your body and use your leverage and use your spacing, you end up with a lot of rebounds. That’s how you become a great rebounder.
You’re not always the biggest guy in the paint, but you come up with a lot of rebounds. What would you tell kids is the key to being a successful rebounder against bigger guys?
Bill Russell said “80 percent of rebounds are below the rim.” So you don’t have to be the most athletic guy, you don’t have to be the longest and lankiest guy in the world. You just have to use your positioning and tenacity under the boards. You’re going to get chopped in the face or hit in the ribs or have the wind knocked out of you a couple times, but you just have to get used that and be hard-nosed.
Everyone wants to be a scorer, but do you think your success can make rebounding cool?
I hope so. I think there are a couple of guys who did that. Dennis Rodman basically made it cool. I’m not going to do some of the stuff that he did off the court, but I’ll find my way to make it cool somehow.
Are you ever going to dye your hair like he did?
I don’t know. Show up in a wedding dress for a book signing? I don’t know. I’ll never do stuff like that. Maybe I’ll add a little flair, I just haven’t thought of it yet.
How did having a father who played in the NBA influence you?
It was great. Just growing up with an NBA dad. I felt special. He put the ball in my hands. He was my hero growing up. Just having in my household was the biggest thing for me. Giving me all the old-school tapes. Show me all the old-school moves that guys had. Had me study different players. The majority of my success that I’m having now is through him and the foundation he set for me at an early age.
That sounds like film study.
It really is. With him, it was every day. But it was fun for me, that’s the thing. He made it fun. He’d let me watch highlights, but he’d make me watch Pete Maravich drills or Bill Walton drills. There’s a 50 free throw video, 100 free throw video, the boxing out video, the superstar tapes. From highlights all the way down through workout stuff. This was from kindergarten on. I wasn’t watching Disney shows or Big Bird, I was watching Larry Bird.
Did you and your dad play one-on-one growing up?
Yeah, we did. I never beat him until the 8th grade. Because he could still dunk at age 50. He had a great stroke and sharp elbows. I didn’t beat him until 8th grade and once I beat him, he stopped playing me.
Would he talk to you after your first win?
No. And I was so happy, I was talking a little bit of trash to him. Eventually, he said, “Well, you finally did it. We’ve had a lot of battles.” There were a lot of fits thrown, I had a little bit of an anger problem when I’d lose to him. I hated losing to him. It was a rivalry. It was like me and my brother. But I beat my brother a lot earlier than 8th grade. Eventually I got big enough and my dad just called it quits after that one.
Who was your favorite player growing up?
It had to be a guy like Charles Barkley. I didn’t necessarily like the Jazz, but I liked Karl Malone. Players like that. I was a real big fan of Shaq. I was always after everything Shaq. The big players in the game.
Did you try to model your game after them?
Somewhat. A lot of the stuff I’d see them do, I’d pop out into the driveway and try to do it during a TV timeout. I’d run out there and try to get a few shots up and then jump right back in to so I could keep watching.
If fans wear your cologne Numb#rs, will they instantly become better rebounders?
Yes. I mentioned on my Twitter before that I put it on in the morning and I already had six rebounds and it wasn’t even a gameday. Hopefully, they’ll become a better rebounder or they’ll get numbers elsewhere when they’re out on the town. It’ll work for them regardless.
What’s next after the cologne? Fashion line? Hair products?
I don’t know. Aftershave. Hair products. Turn it into something. Something big. There’s something in the works right now.
What has your QG blogging experience been like?
It’s been fun. It’s kind of on the side from basketball. It opens up the whole fanbase a little, too.
You returned to Twitter after a brief absence, what do you think of the way fans can interact with their favorite players online these days?
I think it’s great. Social networking and social media is great. It’s just a different way to relate to fans. It’s a way that they can contact you in different ways. Obviously, it has it’s ups and downs, but all the pros in a large majority outweigh the cons.
What’s the craziest contact you’ve had with a fan online this season?
There’s always crazy stuff. Every day I could point out something crazy. Nothing in particular. It’s just a great way to interact and ask people where they’re at, where they’re going, how their day was. This and that. If you have an appearance, you can post your appearance on there and 100,000 people can look at it. And depending on how many followers you have, whether you’re at the All-Star game or in Minnesota, they’re all going to come check it out. That’s what makes it fun and entertaining.