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An Interview with Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves

Kevin Love’s out this week on a media tour because he’s playing in a Pro Beach Volleyball Series sponsored by Jose Cuervo. Love will be playing in the Manhattan Beach Open in California next month, and took the time to talk to The Big Lead this morning. Of course we asked him about the perils of having fun on the beach playing sports.

Q: So you just got into New York Sunday from Mexico. Guess you’re enjoying the lockout?

Kevin Love: [Laughs] I was just in Cozumel, Mexico for nine days, so I’ve been taking it easy. I hadn’t taken a vacation since after my rookie year.

Q: You play any volleyball in Mexico? Not to scare you, but I’m sure you heard the story about Robert Edwards playing flag football on the beach …

LOVE: Yeah, I’m definitely aware of that. Next month I will make sure to get my warmups in and my legs will be strong … hopefully all that strength training will help me when I’m cutting and jumping around diving for balls and stopping on a dime. It’s a great way to stay active during the lockout and have some fun.

Q: Did you follow the NFL and NBA lockout news while you were on vacation? I assume you heard the NFL is having a season. There’s some hope that the NBA lockout will mimic the NFL one, and you guys won’t miss any games.

Kevin Love: I came into town late Sunday night and noticed the NFL labor dispute came to a close and that they’re going to have a season. Hopefully, the NFL laid the groundwork for us and we won’t miss any time. That’s what we’re hoping for. Right now, it’s not looking as good as we’d like. In talking with other players in the league, they want to end the lockout so we can play right away, so everybody won’t have to go abroad and get paid. More than anything, we want this to get resolved so we can play here, in the states.

Q: When the Deron Williams news hit, did you talk to your agent about playing overseas? Would you consider playing internationally?

LOVE: It was crazy. The fact that he’s in Turkey and will be playing is very interesting. It did come up with my agent. You have to assess your situation and find out what’s going to be best for you. You can’t be opposed to it … there’s so many great opportunities to make money. In Deron’s case, he’ll make money during the lockout and get major exposure. You have to consider it. I definitely have. There are a few things in the works, but for right now, I’m just trying to stay as active as I possibly can.

Q: How much have you been working out?

LOVE: I’m in the gym six days a week. I’m working out with Gunner Peterson, doing my yoga, strength & conditioning and working out with players I’ve worked out with in previous years, like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.

Q: I assume since you’re hanging with players like that, at some point, the talk of teaming up has been discussed. With what the Heat did last year, is joining forces with other players a hot topic? Do you think that’s the wave of the future in the NBA?

LOVE: In some cases, yes, but the Dallas Mavericks didn’t have a big three, just a well put-together team of guys and Dirk. They had all been there, done that, and they won the title. It is an intriguing prospect, though, to put together a team of that caliber. The Heat, in their first year, went to the NBA Finals and had success throughout the season.

Q: You played with Westbrook at UCLA and often workout with him. There’s been chatter about the Thunder trading him … surely at some point you guys have talked about being on the same team, right?

LOVE: We’ve joked about it. We also played together on the USA basketball team. We’ve definitely talked about it. Right now, I’m happy being on the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Q: What are your thoughts on Larry Brown interviewing for the Minnesota coaching opening? He’s had a lot of success … but he also has the nickname ‘Next Town Brown’ for a reason.

LOVE: There are other coaches – Bickerstaff, Adelman, and on and on and on – who will be interviewing and Brown is definitely an interesting prospect. Obviously he’s got a different style than the other guys I mentioned … I’m hoping we can adapt to his style, but hopefully he can adapt to our style, too, because we’re going to be a team that wants to run and be up-tempo. And we want to play hard-nosed defense. We’re going to make mistakes, and hopefully he can work with us [while we’re] making mistakes and growing over time.

Q: As the best player on the team, do you feel like you should be consulted on the hiring of the head coach? The Lakers supposedly didn’t talk to Kobe before hiring Mike Brown, and he wasn’t thrilled.

LOVE: I have definitely been asked by David Kahn what I thought about the situation, and I gave my two cents. I told them I think we need a coach to help us grow and win in tough situations and learn how to win. A guy who is going to be able to work with young guys and go through the growing pains to help us become a better team. There were a few names thrown out to me prior to the interview process, and they’ve all interviewed so far.

Q: Do you think Minnesota including you in such a decision is the franchise’s way of saying they want you to be in the long term plans? Obviously they want to hold onto you, but what does their seeking your input mean to you? You’ll have a decision to make pretty soon.

LOVE: Yeah, they’re probably doing that to make sure it doesn’t happen, but for me, it’s flattering. I feel like I have a good vibe for basketball and know the game and know the difference facets of the game. I’m very happy to talk to our front office about that kind of stuff.

Q: Have you spoken much to Ricky Rubio or anyone who has played with him? What kind of impact are you expecting him to bring to the team?

LOVE: He’s still only 20 years old and has a tremendous amount of room to grow. Lucky for him, he’ll have the ball in his hands at point guard, so he’ll learn from his mistakes and grow up extremely fast. Hopefully we’ll bring in a couple veterans on our team to help him learn the NBA and learn the lifestyle on and off the court. We were in the gym before the lockout and if we had 10 people, I think 8 of them were 25 or younger. We have an extremely young team. I love that Ricky’s a pass-first point guard who wants to get everyone involved. It’s very refreshing to be in the gym with him. All he wants to do is work and be around basketball.

Q: How much do you think the new up-tempo attitude has to do with your outlet passes and the addition of Rubio and Derrick Williams? Or do you think the big announcement that you guys want to run more was made to appease Rubio, who flourishes in the open court?

LOVE: More than anything, it’s the youth on our team. But also yes, me being able to outlet the ball and Ricky in the open court. We also have young guys like Mike Beasley, Derrick Williams and Wes Johnson, young guys who get up and down the floor, and their running ability will help us get easy transition buckets. One thing we need to make sure of is not to turn the ball over like last year. And we need to make a point to step up our game on defense. We’ll be more than OK. With the right coach, I think we can make a lot of noise. People will be sleeping on us.

Q: You were pretty active on twitter until that Kevin McHale mishap two years ago. How much are you into social media? Do you think it’s for everyone? You’ve got players trying to pick up chicks and fighting with fans … it can be dangerous.

LOVE: People definitely need to be careful with it. But if used the right way, it can only help you. Some athletes are on there for reasons they shouldn’t be, like picking up girls and getting in fights with people. It’s crazy to see that kind of stuff. You see that and shake your head and wonder why they even have a twitter. If you use it the right way and have fun with it, I think it can be very beneficial for you. You can interact with fans in a different way that you couldn’t in the past.

Q: I was reading up on your epic battles with Kyle Singler in high school – you won a state title, beating him as a junior, then he beat you as a senior. Do you guys still keep in touch? Were you surprised he fell in the draft?

LOVE: We still keep in touch, I know his family real well. He’s been out in LA, so we work out essentially with the same people. We have the same trainer. I was a little surprised he slipped in the draft. I thought he was a definitely a first round talent. After his junior year at Duke, I thought he was capable of being in the lottery. I thought he would come out and be a lottery pick. But I think he’ll have a lot of success in Detroit.

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