There was not much of an off-season for third-year forward Kevin Love. After the Wolves season, Love began to prepare for tryouts with Team USA, which would be participating in the World Championship later in summer. Love made the team and went on to win the gold medal before heading back to Minnesota to join his Wolves teammates in training camp.
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John Focke, Wolves radio producer, recently talked with love about his summer and the upcoming NBA season.
John Focke: Let’s start with this summer. What was it like, playing with USA Basketball, and how was it different from other off-seasons you have had?
Kevin Love: Well I would say the summer was a lot shorter, but as far as basketball-wise it was one of the best summers I have had. Being able to have the opportunity to play with USA Basketball, we had a great collective unit. Great group of guys, great coaching staff, all the way to the front office for USA Basketball, USAB, it was unbelievable. Every game we felt like we were going to come out and prove people wrong, prove the doubters wrong, that said we couldn’t do it without the guys from the ‘Redeem Team’ in ’08. We ended up with a gold medal, so that was a great experience overall, being around those guys and being around USAB as a whole.
JF: How about Coach K, what was it like trying to learn his system, and to deal with him as a head coach?
KL: He was great! I think a lot of people, with him, have preconceived notions had they not met him before, had they not been around him before and just heard stories about him. But first time I met him, he was the greatest. He was sarcastic and joking around with us. One thing about him, despite being a great coach, he’s a great speaker and he got us pumped up to play each game.
Every morning before practice or every morning before a game, he has a 15-20 minute speech on life lessons or what he’s learned over his days…whether it was in college, growing up or coaching all these years. What he said in the first five minutes would relate back in the end to us and kind of give us chills heading into the game and would get us ready to play.
Like I mentioned, he’s a tremendous coach that has won on every level but the NBA level because he’s never coached up here, but he has tremendous respect from everyone in the coaching world and the basketball world and I hope I get another opportunity to play for him in 2012.
JF: We saw how competitive that team was in the actual games, I can only imagine what practice was like…was it as competitive or even more so when you guys were going at each other?
KL: Oh, it was very competitive. I think those were some of the most competitive practices I have ever been a part of because of the simple fact that people didn’t know if we could do it and we knew in our hearts that we could if we absolutely worked our butts off and stuck to the script.
I think everybody put their egos aside and our main superstar on the team, Kevin Durant, might have been the most humble on the whole team, so just having that and having leadership in Chauncey Billups, Lamar Odom, the older vets on the team, and even Tyson Chandler, that really set the tone throughout.
JF: Is that something that you’re taking back to this team? The whole put the egos aside, everyone humble?
KL: Absolutely and we’re trying to have a good time too! We know that we’re gonna have 82-plus games including the preseason together. So we’re just trying to keep it loose, obviously trying to work very hard, and we just want to keep collectively getting on the same page and keep getting better.