Personal growth helping Wolves’ Love on the courtKevin Love sat down at the microphone for his meeting with reporters on Timberwolves media day, and everyone expected the usual mundane chatter about how this team needs to improve, connecting with a new coaching staff in such a short period of time and what he worked on in the offseason to improve his game.
Kevin Love sat down at the microphone for his meeting with reporters on Timberwolves media day, and everyone expected the usual mundane chatter about how this team needs to improve, connecting with a new coaching staff in such a short period of time and what he worked on in the offseason to improve his game.
The 23-year-old All-Star followed that form for the first few minutes, cracking jokes about Ricky Rubio, vaguely covering conversations he had with coach Rick Adelman and hoping the team’s youth will help during a rigorous schedule.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Love started to reflect on what he needs to do to become the man he wants to be and the leader the Timberwolves so desperately need.
“I just think, just going through a lot of things with my family this summer that helped me to grow up, my mom and dad, really helped me as well,” Love said, his voice shaking a little. “But I’m going to try not to get emotional here, but that was a big part of it as well. I wish I could touch on some of this stuff with you, but some of it’s very personal.”
The room fell silent for a moment as Love shared an uncommon moment of vulnerability with a room full of people he doesn’t really know. It was the first sign that Love has changed as he prepares to enter his fourth NBA season, no longer satisfied with piling up some of the best numbers in the game, no longer content to be a member of the league’s doormat.
To get to this point, Love had to do some personal examination during this long, weird, NBA offseason, a period that allowed him to broaden his horizons for the first time in his young life and try to resolve some grudges within his own family that have been weighing on him for years.
“For me it just hit me one day,” Love said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “It’s just one of those things where I felt a sense of enlightenment. I woke up one day and said, I have this window of time in the NBA, this X amount of years after basketball. How can I better my life and better the life of people around me that I care about?”
For much of the time he was growing up as the son of a former NBA player and nephew of a Beach Boys icon, basketball was all Love wanted and all he needed. He was a high school star in Oregon, an All-American in his only season at UCLA and last year led the NBA in rebounding.
He became the first player in more than two decades to have 30 rebounds and 30 points in the same game and became an All-Star in just his third season as a pro.
If there was a criticism of Love the basketball player, it was that maybe he was a little too consumed with his own numbers. Some thought his relentless pursuit of rebounds occasionally hindered the team’s defensive schemes. Others questioned if he had the makeup and the maturity to be a true leader on a young team aching for direction.
Keenly aware of his place in the league and his reputation, Love went to work in the offseason to address his weaknesses. What he found was that the answers to his problems actually may lie in taking some of his focus away from the game and putting it toward a more well-rounded life.
“Definitely in my earlier years I was just saying, I don’t have to really focus on my studies. I don’t have to try new things. I don’t have to learn how to change a tire or start a fire, anything like that,” Love said. “I just go out there and play basketball and I’m set. And while that might be true from a financial standpoint, at the end of the day, that doesn’t shape you as a person.”