Here’s an interview I did in September (2008) with Kevin Love, who was doing press for NCAA Basketball 09, where Love is similarly featured on the cover. Love, currently available in a fantasy basketball free agency pool near you, looked much thinner than he did during his freshman year at UCLA, and seemed confident about his chances in the NBA, and less optimistic about UCLA’s chances this year without him. Whether or not Love has been beaten down by a tough first month in the NBA I’m not sure, but he hardly seemed worried during this interview. Love also dropped a Too Short album title in reference to himself (5 points if you can pinpoint it):
BASG: Obviously Kevin McHale wanted you — bad. He traded for you and you guys have been talked about as having similar parts to your games. Has he talked to you at all or actually come down from the office to teach you some things?
Love: He’s actually already done it. I got to work with him a little bit in August, I’m actually heading out to Minnesota to live there for good on Saturday. But he actually brought me down, showed me how to protect the ball with the net, different hook shots, different go-to moves that I can incorporate into my game, also positioning myself on the block and where to move on defense. So he’s actually shown me a lot so far in a limited time that I have, so I try to incorporate it into my game. But hey, I have all season so hopefully he’ll help me out.
BASG: You were pretty much the only big on the floor most of the time with the Bruins, but you got Al Jefferson now with Minnesota. Is that going to change where your priorities are in the off-season?
Love: I think so. I’m going to have to step out and shoot the ball a little bit more, take it to the hole, and play the pinch post and high post as well. Playing with Al, he’s going to make the game so easy because he’s going to be double-teamed a lot. He’ll be able to kick it out to me, but I’ll be able to hit him whenever he needs it. He’s going to be our high scorer on the team definitely, and I’m just looking to get in where I fit in to help the team win as much as possible.
BASG: People talk about the rookie wall, and conditioning and stuff.
Love: Everybody hits it, that’s what I’ve heard.
BASG: Is that a number one priority this off-season or is it something else like your outside shot, or any other parts of your game that you’re working on the most?
Love: I would definitely just say keep my conditioning where it’s at. I’ve been told not to go into training camp at the best condition possible. Still be in great condition, but you don’t want to peak too early, too, because you play 82 games a season at least, and that’s probably the biggest thing. I’m just going to have to adjust to the schedule. I mentioned living out of a suitcase earlier to somebody, and you know you’re traveling 41 of the 82 games so you’re going to be tired. Learning to get rest, when to sleep, when to go out for appearances so you’re not too tired and certain things like that. It’s going to be hard to adjust to, but hey, that’s why you hit the rookie wall, it’s because, you know, have to learn it.
BASG: In one year you were a high school player, went to UCLA, played in the Final Four, drafted into the NBA, now you’re on a video game cover — kind of a whirlwind last year. Is your head kind of spinning?
Love: It is spinning. Especially the past three months, because I had to work out for certain teams that I felt I was going to get drafted by, and it felt like the draft took forever to come. I got drafted and had my press conference the next day, finally got to go back home and have some breathing room. After the draft I was working out six or seven hours a day — not only basketball, but weights, conditioning, on the bike, lifting, certain things like that, all the way to Summer League, which is a week after I already went home. So I was working out, getting up in the mix here at UCLA, had a great showing at Summer League, got to play with the Olympic team a little bit and finally I got to have a little time off, but then I have to go out to Minnesota and find a place, so it’s been a whirlwind.
BASG: You plan on playing more video games now that you’re in a cold weather city?
Love: I’m going to have to. They say that you’re going to have so much downtime that you’re going to be able to do whatever you want and that’s why a lot of guys get in trouble, so I’ll have to play my game.
BASG: Were you surprised Russell Westbrook had such a meteoric rise right before the draft, going fourth?
Love: I wasn’t surprised. He had a great season. He changed, he’s the person who’s changed more as a player than anybody I’d ever seen over the course of the past summer. Not this past summer but the summer before when he made his transition into his sophomore year and really blew up. I told everybody “you got to watch out for this kid, he’s going to be special.” He lived up to my expectations. So I wasn’t surprised that he went four.
BASG: How do you think UCLA is going to do this year?
Love: I think they’ll do well. I don’t think they’ll have the run that they did last year, that we did last year, because we were pretty good. We had three guys that are in the NBA and another guy in Darren Collison that probably could have gone too. I still think they’ll be right at the top in the Pac-10 but as far as making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, we’ll have to see, but I’ll be rooting for them all the way.
BASG: Have you talked to any current NBA players from UCLA, maybe like Jordan Farmar? Have they given you any advice on what to do or not to do?
Love: Not really. Jordan he should be thanking God, he should be thanking somebody because he went to high school in LA, he went to college in LA and ended up in LA. Basically all that they really say is about the rookie hazing. They talk about that, they talk about the rookie wall, get your rest, your sleep, make sure you have a good schedule. You have to place values on certain things and prioritize your schedule so you don’t put things on top of each other or you get too stressed out the whole season.
BASG: If there was no NBA rule, do you think you would have gone out after your senior year of high school?
Love: I would have declared. I would have declared to see what things would have been like, not hired an agent and seen where my status was at. But I wouldn’t change my year of college for anything. I had the best experience here ever, and now I’m on the cover of a video game wearing my UCLA jersey, so I think I did a pretty good job.
*** Five points to you if you noticed this quote: “I’m just looking to get in where I fit in to help the team win as much as possible.” So if you ever see Love rollin in his drop top caddy, Throw a peace sign and say hey pimp daddy! ***