Kevin Love announced Tuesday that he’s going to play volleyball in the Manhattan Beach Open next month. Love made his announcement at Times Square in New York City where a beach volleyball court was set up for him and other athletes on the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series tour to play. We spoke with Love after the event and asked him if this was the first of many publicity stunts to come. We also asked him about his development as a player, his thoughts on Ricky Rubio, who he’d like the team to hire as its new head coach, and what goes into building the ideal team. Our interview follows.
How did this whole thing with Jose Cuervo and the beach volleyball idea come about?
Jose Cuervo came to me and said that they wanted me to be a part of it and I took it and ran with it — I thought it was a home run. It’s a different thing I could use throughout the lockout to keep active and kind of have fun with, so I’m very excited about it.
Do you have more ideas like this in store, like Ochocinco, or is this a one-time deal for you?
I’m not opposed to anything. I’m down to try new things and new sports, so I’m definitely taking the Ochocinco route. I’m definitely down to try anything, I think it’s fun.
How much volleyball experience do you have?
Not much, obviously a little bit in high school but nothing on the beach and it wasn’t really too serious. It was kind of just hitting the ball around with my friends in gym class but I even surprised myself today — I was a little better than I thought.
You made the jump, you became an All-Star this season. How good do you think you can be? Do you think you can be the centerpiece on a championship team?
Yeah, I think the sky’s the limit. I’m 22 years old — there’s still so much room to grow. Even Michael Jordan said that players don’t reach their prime until they’re 27-34. I think I can be as good as I want to be and take my game to whatever level I want to take it to.
You won Most Improved Player this year. How much was it you improving and how much was it the T-Wolves giving you full minutes?
I think a lot of it was confidence. I put in a tremendous amount of work throughout the summer and throughout USA Basketball. I think gaining confidence and playing with those guys on a world championship team helped me take my game to the next level as well. I think it was a correlation of a few things, but more than anything it was just my confidence and hard work that finally paid off, and absolutely the opportunity the Wolves gave me to play starter’s minutes.
What was that like your rookie season? Was it frustrating feeling like you could do a lot more to help the team and not having that opportunity?
I think that everything happens for a reason. McHale came in and took over and was playing me big minutes and that helped me become the player I am today. That made me work that much harder to get me where I wanted to go. Everything happens for a reason.
I know you said with Ricky Rubio that you would believe it when you saw it, do you believe it now?
Ha, that’s actually what David Kahn asked me the first time when I walked into the gym and he was there. He asked me ‘Do you believe it now?’ And I said ‘yeah,’ it’s the real thing.
How good is Rubio? Is he the real deal?
Yes, he’s very good. The best part about him is he’s only 20 years old. He’s going to get better with time and he’s going to have the ball in his hands so much he’s going to be able to learn from mistakes. He’ll be able to grow as a player and grow as a point guard. I’m definitely looking forward to playing with him. I think he is the real deal. He’s a refreshing type of player, he’s the type of player that loves working on his game.
One of the issues with the team is the timetable for development. You have two more years under contract whereas Rubio is just arriving. Do you think there is enough of a window when you’re guaranteed to be with the team where they can have a lot of success?
I sure hope so. I really enjoy being in Minnesota and being in Minneapolis so I’m hoping that we will have success there. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll have success. I’m a bit of a wishful thinker and hoping that we’ll make the playoffs in the near future with the young team that we have. I look at the groundwork that the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City and all the wins they produced with their young teams and we need to try and emulate what they’ve done as much as possible.
Going back to draft night, did you know you were going to Minnesota, or did you think for a few minutes you were going to go to Memphis?
I was drafted by Memphis so I thought I was going to stay with them. I got the call later that night and there it was, I ended up in Minnesota.
Was that any motivation for you that you wanted to prove you were better than O.J. Mayo or that Memphis made the wrong move?
No, we play two totally different positions, but one thing I wanted to prove to myself is that I could compete at a very high level in this league. I don’t think there are any boundaries to how good a certain player can get as long as he’s in the right situation and has a lot of opportunity, so for me I was blessed with the way things have gone along.
You’ve talked about being in the right situation. What is the ideal situation for you? What structure of a team, what type of teammates, and what type of flow of offense?
I think being around a group of true winners. Some veteran guys who have been there and done that and a slew of young guys who can play heavy minutes if need be. You definitely have to have a high payroll, veteran players, and obviously good coaching and a little bit of luck. Maybe I left out a thing or two, but that’s kind of the equation for success.
Of the names who are mentioned as potential coaches for the Timberwolves, have any stood out to you?
I think a very intriguing prospect is Rick Adelman. For me, especially being a good passing big man and a good shooter and a guy that can play at the high post, being in his corner system and his corner offense and playing at the high post would be very intriguing and very fun to be a part of. Obviously there are other intriguing prospects out there and I’m hoping that management will make the right choice.Google+