If you prowled around this site during the lockout summer (or rather, fall), you may have seen a post about former Baltimore Bullet Stan Love, father of Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves. When he was in town on Sunday, Kevin took some time before the game to chat with me about his dad. Here goes…
What has your father told you about the NBA?
“My dad has dropped a lot of knowledge on me throughout the years. He placed a ball in my hands from an early age, so basketball has always been in my blood — obviously with having the last name ‘Love’ and obviously being named after Wes Unseld, different spelling [Kevin’s middle name is Wesley, Unseld spelled his first name, Westley], but going back to his heyday. It’s pretty special to be trying to follow in his footsteps and kind of do what my dad did, but also a little bit of what [Unseld] did as well.”
What have you taken from what you’ve seen of Wes Unseld’s game via old film, YouTube, etc.?
“Strength, his rebounding, the way he approached the game every day going hard. He’s a Hall of Fame forward in this league, so I just try to take as much as I possibly can from him and what my dad spoke about from his early days. Other than that, just trying to create my own.”
How would you describe your dad’s game from what you’ve seen?
“Athletic, springboard, a guy that could shoot it, a hard-nosed type of player, and that’s basically it.”
Do you have any of his old Bullets gear or from his days with the Lakers?
“Naw, he’s too skinny for me, so I could never fit into that stuff. My brother could, but I’ve always had the thick body and was more of a rounder type of player… I guess burly type player. He was always very skinny.”
A lot of old articles have characterized your dad as ‘flaky,’ some relaying stories, one saying how instead of walking to the bench after getting subbed out of a game, he scooted across the floor, mock-rowing like an Olympic sculler…
“That sounds like him. He definitely is a character — eccentric, a little different — but he’s the reason why and how I play today. He taught me basically everything I know up to this point. Obviously I’ve tweaked a few things, I’ve had proper coaching and proper skill work. But all that is base and everything in my skill set comes from him.”
How does your dad feel about his alma mater, Oregon? [Stan Love once said he’d “never go back there” after the Love family, Kevin having chosen UCLA over Oregon, received threats and vulgar treatment from Ducks fans upon attending a UCLA-Oregon game on the Ducks campus while Kevin was playing college ball.]
“He knows that he went to Oregon, everybody knows that he went to Oregon, but no hard feelings there at all. I think he’s more happy than anything that we [UCLA] beat Oregon twice. He’s more of a UCLA fan now-a-days, but he never forgets where he came from.”
Has rebounding always been natural to you? Or was it something you had to realize, something that clicked one day?
“It was always a natural talent for me, I always had a knack for the ball. I always say that 80-percent of rebounds are below the rim. So for me, if I position myself on the court as best I can, among any of the players out there I always feel like I have the advantage. So it’s just a natural knack for me and I want to continue to keep getting better.”
In terms of the Wizards, what do you need to do against their athletic front line featuring JaVale McGee?
“Just play my game. Just do what I normally do. Go out there, play hard, and take what the defense gives me. I know that they’re long and athletic, and they have a size advantage on me, but I’ve played against that enough now that I just got to go with my strengths.”
Is there anything the Wizards can do to keep you off the boards?
“There’s a lot of missed shots out there, so not really.”
Missed shots as in the Wizards are the worst shooting team in the NBA?
“On a team’s best night they’re only going to shoot 50-percent, so with, say, 100 possessions, there’s going to be a lot of missed shots to get out there, on both sides of the ball, whether on the offensive or defensive end. Like I said, there are a lot of missed shots that are out there to get, I just hope that we win the rebounding battle tonight as a team.”
Kevin Love finished with 20 points on 7-16 shooting, 5-7 free-throws, and 16 rebounds (two offensive) in a 93-72 Minnesota win over Washington on Sunday. The Wizards bested the T-Wolves in team rebounding 45-44, winning the battle on the offensive boards 16-10. However, with Washington shooting a horrid 34.5-percent from the field, there’s a reason more rebounds were available.