Kevin Love sat down with ESPN Radio to talk a bit about his experience of being voted in by the fans, Minnesota’s struggles, the rumors swirling about his future, and who’s manning the phones at Love Dial these days. Listen to the interview here, transcription below.
On finding out he had been voted into the All-Star Game as a starter:
We were away from home and we were in San Francisco at the time playing the Warriors. That day, before shootaround, Dan Bell — who works in our community relations staff, for our PR department — he came up to me and said, ‘In case of you starting in the game, we’ve got to set up all these interview for tonight,’ and I said, ‘Dan, it’s not happening. The fans did a great job. Obviously, they’re what drives this game and the fans in Minnesota were awesome. We did all we could to make the push.’
And he said, ‘Well, I still have to set it up,’ and I did some interview after shootaround that day and I still thought, ‘It’s not going to happen. There’s no chance.’ When I got the call from Flip Saunders around 4:15 — I think they announced it fifteen minutes later — I was completely stunned, completely shocked. So hats off to the fans. It’s incredible.
I’ve been an injury replacement four years ago, I was voted in by the coaches, and now I’m a starter. Kinda hit the trifecta there.
On what goes into deciding to participate in the World Cup this summer:
USA Basketball — between Jerry Colangelo, Coach Boeheim and Coach Krzyzewski — they’ve been so good to me in my career. They gave me a great opportunity in 2010 in the World Championship which is now the World Cup. It was an easy decision for me. I worked out with Kevin Durant this past summer and over the past few summers and we had talked about it. As soon as we landed, we got out of our car and they were waiting there for us and wanted a commitment and we were there to give it to them.
For me it was pretty simple. As you know, there’s nothing quite like being there — whether it’s coaching or playing with USA across your chest, the red, white and blue — it’s a pretty special experience.
On injury concerns with playing over the summer:
You definitely have to be a little bit lucky. Last year I was very unlucky with my hand but this year I’ve really felt great. I’m 25 years old, hopefully heading into the very early prime of my career and I’m looking forward to winning another gold in Barcelona.
On how accurate it is to say he has a very intense desire get to the playoffs:
That’s very, very accurate. I just want to win. That pretty much sums it up.
On the Timberwolves disappointing season:
Mentioning having a little bit of luck, we’ve yet again hit the injury bug with Nikola Pekovic with bursitis in his right foot and Kevin Martin with this left thumb, it’s been a crazy up and down season for us. We’ve been right at .500 basically the whole year and just never been able to get over that hump but it’s not for lack of trying, not for lack of fighting. We have a great coaching staff, Coach Adelman’s one of the best to ever to ever do it — quietly one of the top coaches. We just have to make a second half push, or last 30-game push if we want to make something special happen. It’s very frustrating because I just want to go out there and win.
On looking at the Eastern Conference and how the Wolves would be the fifth or sixth seed there:
I think that’s been one of the storylines this year, that the Eastern Conference hasn’t been quite up to what the Western Conference is. The West is just completely loaded. You see teams that are creeping into the six, seven or eight spot and then you see the top four or five teams that are just unbelievable. We definitely have a tough strength of schedule, we have to play some tough teams.
For me, at the power forward position, basically every night in the Western Conference it’s very tough. You have to bring it every night, which is fun, being a competitor. But yeah, it’s something funny to look at geographically, especially where we are. But we’re in the Western Conference, so we have to shape up to try to get in that eighth spot.
On how differently he looks at the NBA now as a veteran:
A lot differently. I remember we were staying at the Wynn [Hotel in Las Vegas] and P.J. [Carlesimo?] was running the team with USA Basketball and I remember going up to get my food and he said, “Hey rook: you haven’t played a single minute. You get to the back, buddy.” Now I get in here and see you guys getting this food and I can get it whenever I want. So yeah, my mindset has changed a little bit.
It’s really fun to say I’m an All-Star starter, that I’m here because of the fans. My mindset taking the floor every night is different, my approach to the game. I’m not a superstitious guy but I’m a creature of habit, being able to do the same thing every day and trying to be a consummate professional. It’s just something you learn over time. For me it was changing my body: how to eat, how to work in the summer. I think those are things that have helped me perform night in and night out and I think that professional mindset is something that I’ve hard to learn.
On how much he’s looked at analytics and how off things like point differential have been for predicting the Wolves’ record:
We mentioned it being somewhat frustrating this season and that’s been one of the things: just closing out games. I saw a stat the other day that teams have scored around 60 while we’ve scored 15 in the final two or three minutes of those close games. If we go .500 in those games, we’re right there where the Mavericks are. It changes our entire season.
But that’s on us. That’s on us possibly not playing together, that’s on me. But it’s something that we definitely look at and that hopefully in these last 30 games we can turn around.
On his reaction to the chatter about where he’s headed in 2015 and if it’s the Lakers:
I think it’s funny because it’s not my fault I was born there. I chose to play at UCLA and stay on the West Coast and play for Coach Howland who had been to two consecutive Final Fours at the time. So for me, I’m just happy where I’m at right now. I want to turn this thing around. I want to win as many games as we can these last 30 games and just get through this and do the best we can because we have a team that —when healthy — can do some damage.
You mentioned tomorrow being the not so fun part and I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of those questions but if I can just deaden them as quickly as I can, that’s what I’m going to do because I’m just focused on the present.
On who’s answering the phone at Love Dial right now:
I think it’s Flip now. He’s on board so it’s probably Flip answering the Love Dial. Those RV campaigns are great.