- Category : Basketball Player
- Type : ME
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Dominion 2
Kevin Wesley Love (born September 7, 1988) is an American professional basketball player for the Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is a two-time All-Star and holds the longest streak for consecutive games recording double figures in points and rebounds since the ABA–NBA merger. The Associated Press called Love the new face of the Timberwolves franchise.
A top ranked prospect out of Lake Oswego High School in Oregon, Love played one season of college basketball for the UCLA Bruins and led the team to a Final Four appearance in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Love was named the Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year and consensus First Team All-American following the season. Love chose not to complete his three remaining years of college eligibility and entered the 2008 NBA Draft. He was taken fifth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies, and was traded to the Timberwolves on draft night for the third overall selection, O. J. Mayo, in an eight-player deal. Love was a member of the gold medal-winning United States men's national basketball team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Kevin Love was born in Santa Monica, California, the second of three children of Karen and former NBA forward Stan Love. A year later, the Love family moved to Lake Oswego, Oregon. Growing up, Stan passed on his interest in basketball by showing his son tapes of the Celtics–Lakers rivalry. In addition, Love studied tapes of all-time great passing centers in Wes Unseld and Bill Walton, along with instructional tapes from Hall of Famers such as Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Charles Barkley, and Michael Jordan. For hand and wrist strength, Stan would push Love to do fingertip push-ups.
High school career
Love had a successful high school career with the Lake Oswego Lakers. In his sophomore year, Love averaged 25.3 ppg, 15.4 rpg, 3.7 apg, and led the Lakers to the 2005 Oregon state high school basketball championship game, where they lost to Jesuit High School 57–53. That summer, Love was the center of controversy when Nike removed him from its Portland Elite Legends AAU team because he had chosen to participate in the Reebok ABCD Camp against other top recruits. Love went on to play for the Southern California All-Stars, where the team compiled an unprecedented 46–0 record as he garnered three MVP awards.
In 2006, Love averaged 28.0 ppg, 16.1 rpg, and dished out 3.5 apg as the Lakers returned to the Oregon state championship game. With Love's 24 points and 9 rebounds, the Lakers defeated South Medford and fellow star recruit Kyle Singler, 59–57. In Love's final year at Lake Oswego, he put up 33.9 ppg, 17.0 rpg, and 4.0 apg as the team finished 26–2. Earlier that year, in a game against Rex Putnam High School, Love shattered the backboard on a breakaway dunk. Love and Singler met again for the 2007 championship, this time however, Singler and South Medford defeated Lake Oswego 58–54, overcoming Love's 37 points and 15 rebounds. After the season, Love was named the 2007 Men's Basketball Gatorade National Player of the Year.
Love finished his high school career as the all-time leading scorer in Oregon boys' basketball history with 2,628 points. The previous record had stood for 50 years. The Lakers went 92–21 in four seasons with Love, and made three straight state championship games, winning once.
Love was ranked as one of the top players in the nation from the class of 2007. In July 2006, Love verbally committed to play college basketball for coach Ben Howland at UCLA. He had also considered playing for the University of North Carolina. Love, who had worn number 42 for a majority of his basketball career, received permission from Walt Hazzard to wear the same number with UCLA, even though the school had retired the number for Hazzard in 1996. After arriving at UCLA, Love regularly sought out retired Bruins legends Bill Walton and John Wooden for advice.
Love's decision to play for the Bruins brought animosity from fans of the University of Oregon, his father's alma mater, where it was expected he would play. Prior to a game at Oregon, Ducks fans obtained Love's cell phone number and left obscene messages as well as death threats; the fans also subjected Love's family to obscenities and threw garbage at them during the game. This event, along with similar incidents directed at other players, has prompted a discussion of whether abuse by college basketball fans is becoming too extreme. Love finished the game with 26 points and 18 rebounds in a 80–75 win.
In the 2008 Pacific-10 Conference Men's Basketball Tournament, the Bruins defeated the USC Trojans, featuring O. J. Mayo, in the semi-finals. Both Mayo and Love were nominated to the All Pac-10 tournament team. Later, Love guided UCLA to the regular season Pac-10 conference championship, the conference tournament championship, and a No. 1 seed in the 2008 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Love helped the Bruins to the Final Four of the tournament, where they lost to the Memphis Tigers, whose season and tournament appearance in turn were later vacated. At the end of the 2007–08 regular season, Love was named consensus first-team All-American, Pac-10 Player of the Year, All-Pac-10, and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. He led the Bruins with 17.5 ppg, 10.6 rpg, and 23 double-doubles.
2008 NBA Draft
In a press conference on April 17, 2008, Love announced his intention to leave UCLA to enter the 2008 NBA Draft. He was taken fifth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies, right after his teammate at UCLA, Russell Westbrook, who was taken fourth by the Seattle SuperSonics. Following the draft, Love was traded along with Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Jason Collins to the Minnesota Timberwolves, with the third overall pick O. J. Mayo, Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric, and Greg Buckner going to the Grizzlies.
Love went on to play in the 2008 NBA Summer League and led all players in rebounding. In his NBA debut on October 29, Love came off the bench to contribute 12 points and nine rebounds in a 98–96 win over the Sacramento Kings. The Timberwolves struggled early on losing 15 of their first 19 games, prompting the dismissal of head coach Randy Wittman. Timberwolves general manager Kevin McHale, a Hall of Famer who acquired Love in the trade, took over as head coach and they developed a close relationship. Under McHale, the Timberwolves improved their play in January by going 10–4, with Love averaging a double-double. Love was not selected to the NBA All-Star Weekend Rookie Challenge, to the surprise of his teammates and coaches. After the team's leading scorer Al Jefferson was sidelined for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in February, Love's minutes increased, and he was named NBA Rookie of the Month for March.
Love finished the season ninth in the league in rebounding, first among rookies, and ranked third in total offensive rebounds. Love also led all first-years with 29 double-doubles, the most by a Timberwolves rookie in franchise history. He also ranked first in the league in offensive rebound percentage, becoming the first rookie to lead the league since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984–85. Love was also second in the NBA in total rebound percentage. He was named to the 2009 NBA All-Rookie Second Team and finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting. He is also known for his outlet passing, which led to comparisons to Wes Unseld.
In the off-season, Love was invited to participate in the USA National Team mini-camp that was conducted from July 22–25 in Las Vegas. Love also generated attention from his Twitter account when he broke the story that Kevin McHale wasn't returning to coach the Timberwolves for the 2009–2010 season.
Love began the season on the injured list when in a pre-season game on October 16, 2009 against the Chicago Bulls, he broke the fourth metacarpal in his left hand by banging it against the elbow of teammate Oleksiy Pecherov. Following surgery, Love missed the first 18 games of the season. He returned against the New Orleans Hornets on December 4, 2009, and made immediate impact for the Timberwolves, who were struggling out of the gate with a 2–16 record.
Kevin Love was selected to play in NBA All-Star Weekend Rookie Challenge. He finished the season ranked as the NBA's best rebounder per 48 minutes (18.4), besting Dwight Howard (18.3) and Marcus Camby (18.1).
The Timberwolves' trade of Jefferson before the 2010–11 NBA season was expected to result in more playing time for Love. However, he averaged 28 minutes through the first nine games, exceeding 30 minutes only twice. Chris Mannix of SI.com wrote that many speculated there was a rift between coach Kurt Rambis and Love. In a home game against the New York Knicks on November 12, 2010, Love became the 19th player to record a "30–30" game, when he recorded 31 points along with a career-high 31 rebounds. His 31 rebounds set a Timberwolves franchise record and were also the most by a player in an NBA game since Charles Barkley recorded 33 rebounds in a game in 1996. Love became the first player to record a 30–30 game since Moses Malone in 1982. Love scored a career-high 43 points and had 17 rebounds on December 18 in a 115–113 loss to the Denver Nuggets. On February 4, 2011, Love was selected by Commissioner David Stern to his first NBA All-Star Game as replacement for the injured Yao Ming. The day before, Love was not selected as an All-Star as a reserve although averaging 21.4 points, a league-best 15.5 rebounds, shooting 43.9 percent from 3-point range, and having 34 straight double-doubles for the 11–37 Timberwolves. On February 8, Love set a team record (previously held by Kevin Garnett) with his 38th consecutive double-double after scoring 20 points and recording 14 rebounds in the Timberwolves' 112–108 win over the Houston Rockets. He scored 37 points and had 23 rebounds on February 27 in a 126–123 win over the Golden State Warriors. It was his fourth 30-point, 20-rebound game of the season, and Love went 18 for 23 from the free throw line to tie Minnesota's team records for made and attempted free throws. On March 13, Love's consecutive double-double streak ended at 53 games in a loss to the Golden State Warriors. It was the longest streak since the ABA–NBA merger in 1976, surpassing Malone's 51-game streak from 1979 to 1980. Love was two short of Elvin Hayes's streak of 55 consecutive double-doubles set in the 1973–74 season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wilt Chamberlain holds the record with 227 consecutive double-doubles from 1964 to 1967. The NBA does not recognize the double-double as an official statistic. Love suffered a strained left groin on March 20 against Sacramento. He missed the final six games and nine of the last 11 games of the season due to the injury.
Love led the NBA in rebounding averaging 15.2 per game. He won the NBA Most Improved Player Award after increasing his points per game by 44 percent and his rebounds per game by 38 percent over his previous season. Love established career highs in rebounding, scoring (20.2), assists (2.5), double-doubles (64), field goal percentage (.470), free throw shooting (.850), 3-point shooting (.417) and minutes played (35.8). He became the first player to average at least 20 points and 15 rebounds in a season since Malone in the 1982–83 season. The Associated Press wrote that he emerged as the new face of the franchise since Garnett was traded from the Timberwolves to the Boston Celtics in 2007. In 2010–11, Love's No. 42 was the Wolves' top-selling jersey since Kevin Garnett was in his prime.
This was Love's contract season. He had stated that he wanted to be the Timberwolves' "designated player" for a five-year deal during the offseason (a designated player offer must be made prior to the final year qualifying offer), but he was denied this contract by the Timberwolves. Contract negotiations became tense, leading to an incident where David Kahn (team GM) "marched" into the players training room and "thrust a contract offer sheet into his hands". Love responded, "I'm not the one to always follow professional protocol – but I do know what it is, even at 24 years old". They eventually settled on four years with a player option for Love to opt out after the third year. The four-year contract extension worth up to $62 million was finally agreed to, and signed, on January 25, allowing Love to become an unrestricted free agent as early as 2015. Love has stated that he felt very strongly that he should have had a five-year designated player extension, and would have accepted the offer, had it been offered to him.
Love followed up this new contract extension the subsequent night with a 31 point performance in a win over the Dallas Mavericks.In January 2012, Love scored 30 points in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. He began the season recording 15 straight double-doubles, the first player to do so since Hakeem Olajuwon in the beginning of the 1992-1993 NBA season. On January 20, 2012, Love took a half second 3 point shot to beat the Los Angeles Clippers.
On February 6, 2012, Love was given a two-game suspension for stepping on the face of Luis Scola. After the game on February 4, Love said, "I mean, he fell down after the play. He just kind of laid there and... I just happened to be there. I had nowhere to go. I got kind of tripped up and I just had nowhere to step. He was right there... and it happened to be his face.” On February 25, 2012, Love participated in the Three-Point Shootout and defeated Kevin Durant in the final tie-breaking round to win the contest. Love scored a season high 42 points in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers on March 3, 2012. Love set a franchise record for most games scoring over 30 points in a season on March 12, 2012 in a victory over the Phoenix Suns. He also had a career-high 51 points in a 149–140 double overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The following game, Love erupted for 30 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in a win over the Denver Nuggets. For the season, Love was named to the All-NBA second team and finished sixth in MVP voting. In the offseason, Love voiced frustration with Minnesota for not being a playoff team. The Timberwolves finished with the Western Conference's fourth-worst record at 26–40, which was still the franchise's most wins since the 2006–07 season.
On October 17, 2012, it was reported that Love would miss six to eight weeks after breaking the third and fourth metacarpals on his right (shooting) hand during a morning workout. Love surprised fans by returning to the Wolves on November 21, just five weeks after sustaining the injury. He played 35 minutes and scored 34 points while grabbing 14 rebounds against the Denver Nuggets. In December, Love would score 36 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers, yet he continued to voice his frustration with the team's front office.
On January 3, 2013, Love refractured his shooting hand in a game against the Denver Nuggets. It was announced by the Timberwolves that Love's injury would require surgery and he is expected to miss an additional eight to ten weeks of playing time. Prior to the second fracture, Love was shooting just 21.7 percent on three-pointers and a career-low 35 percent from the field, leading some to speculate that he had returned too quickly from his original injury. Love himself admitted that the hand remained an issue throughout the season, saying "It's just the hand being so idle, having to strengthen it. Getting the ball to feel right in my hand has been such a struggle since getting back on the court a couple weeks ago."