Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard by now that Kevin Love will be trading in the basketball court for a beach volleyball one this offseason. Yes, the California baller with the Beach Boy roots is trying his hand at volleyball. Not just for fun, either. He’s trying to qualify for the Manhattan Beach Open in L.A.
How long has Love been playing volleyball? Well, he hasn’t. But he was on Tuesday, where he made his announcement and then showed his skills in a makeshift court right in the middle of Times Square. We spoke with Love about his new challenge, what he thinks the Timberwolves need in a new coach and that time he took his best friend’s girlfriend to the prom.
TBJ: So, how was playing a little volleyball in Times Squre?
Kevin Love: Oh my God, it was amazing. I’ve just never seen anything like that before. A pro beach volleyball court right in the middle of Times Square it was unbelievable. It was a great experience and I’m glad I did it.
TBJ: Is this ever something you had in the back of your mind that you could have imagined ever having an opportunity to do?
KL: Not to play in the Manhattan Beach Open. Nothing of that sort. It’s really cool to be part of something like this and my dad had always mentioned growing up on the beach and coming form a lineage of a family all from Southern California, they all played beach volleyball. For me, I was born in Southern California, but grew up in Portland, Oregon, so it gives me a chance to go back to my roots, or at least my family’s roots is really special to me.
TBJ: When did you start playing?
KL: I actually haven’t even played really. Luckily today I was somewhat of a natural and I’m very excited about the idea of this whole thing.
TBJ: How are you going to train for it?
KL: I’m just going to own it. I’m going to put myself out there and get a partner and get a coach and if anything it will give me a great excuse to go to the beach, get some sun and be active.
TBJ: What has been the reaction of your friends and family?
KL: They’re all laughing. My dad is obviously very excited because he played back in the day and my mom thinks its great as well. Some of my teammates are poking fun at me, but I’m saying, ‘Hey man, I’m going out there and doing it. I’m having a lot of fun,’
TBJ: Do you think this will be a good way to train during the lockout?
KL: I think it definitely will be. It still keeps me active, obviously I’ll still be doing my basketball workouts and things of that nature, but more than anything it’ll keep me active and keep me in the sun like I’m supposed to be in the offseason. So it’s all good fun.
TBJ: Speaking of basketball, you don’t have a coach right now. If someone were to give you the reins, what would be the biggest things the team has to improve on?
KL: I just think we need to grow up .We’ve had a young team the three years I’ve been in the league. We definitely need to grow up more than anything. Come together as a team and have great chemistry on the court. You mentioning that we need a coach, we’re going to need a coach that’s going to be able to go through some growing pains with us and grow with us as a team as well.
TBJ: It’s been interesting to watch you tweet about your impressions of Ricky Rubio before and after he was here. I talked to Derrick Williams last week and he said watching Ricky in person is like watching a YouTube mixtape.
KL: Yeah, it really is. That’s the best way to put it. His court vision is really second to none. He’s a type of player, he’s going to have a lot of success in the pick-and-rolls and in the open court. I think all of us want to get up and down in our style of offense and it’s really going to be something fun to watch and also something fun to play with and Ricky’s going to shine in our offense.
TBJ: Is it strange when you hear younger guys like Bismack Biyombo saying they watch tape of you so they can try to emulate your game? Do you feel like you’re too young to have guys looking up to you in that way already?
KL: It’s definitely flattering. It’s definitely, definitely flattering. Guys that have a lot of success in this league, I remember saying I wanted to be like Elton Brand and then David West and those type of power forwards that had a lot of success at kind of my size and style of game. I feel like I say that about those players as well. It’s very flattering.
TBJ: Is there anyone in the league you consider as your mentor?
KL: I think more than anything just developing friendships and people you can turn to throughout the league. I still keep in touch with Brian Cardinal a lot. I’m very happy for him because he just won an NBA Championship. I still look to him for advice and more than basketball-related questions. He’s a good friend that I developed with the Timberwolves and I still keep in touch with him today.
TBJ: It sounds like the team is going to run a lot. How do you factor that into your training and conditioning?
KL: I think I just work on my overall game. I think that’s the only thing you can do. Hoping that your style fits with a certain coach. I think for me, my style of play fits in any system therefore I just have to keep fine-tuning my game, keep fine-tuning the things I can get better at.
TBJ: Do you have a tally in your head when you’re grabbing rebounds or is that something that you find out after the game?
KL: It’s really just something that I play through. In different arenas the box score is right in front of you. You try not to look at it because it’s your own stats, you just try to look at the score. Sometimes you’ll know, but you try not to look at it too much because you just want to go out there and play.
TBJ: What do you listen to when you’re training for basketball and do you think it’ll be the same music you’ll listen to while you train for volleyball?
KL: I think volleyball will be more fun-in-the-sun type music and basketball is a lot of hip hop and that sort of thing. That’s what I grew up listening to in accordance when it comes to basketball.
TBJ: What’s the best music performance you’ve ever been to?
KL: I’d say Radio City Music Hall with Jay-Z last year was probably the best.
TBJ: During the ESPYs you said you took your best friend’s girl to the prom. How does that happen and how did he find out?
KL: It happened because I ended up, I ended up, my friends were playing a prank on me and they were going to vote my girlfriend of the time to be princess of the prom and I didn’t want to dance so I thought the only way to get out of it was to ask another girl to prom. I ended up asking my best friend’s girlfriend, she said yes, he found out and it didn’t bode well with the two of them for awhile. My girlfriend actually ended up dumping me, and my best friend, he got over it in about a week and he’s still a lifelong friend to this day.
TBJ: Did your girlfriend end up being princess?
KL: Yeah, she was princess, but she wasn’t prom queen.
TBJ: So it worked out. You didn’t have to dance, you had a date, your friend was fine.