Feeling the Love
UCLA's newest star is enjoying fame, big city
Posted: Monday July 30, 2007 3:29PM; Updated: Monday July 30, 2007 3:42PM
The sign outside of the LG Beach House, a 3,500 square-foot oasis on the Malibu shores, says the "Young Kings of L.A." are having a party here today. While it's true that the self-proclaimed quartet of NBA players, Dorrell Wright, Marcus Williams, Hassan Adams and Trevor Ariza, are throwing a classic summer soiree on the sun-kissed beach, L.A.'s newest young king is gazing at the waves rolling up against the beachfront property, soaking in his new kingdom before the sun sets.
Kevin Love shouldn't be a stranger to beaches. After all, his uncle Mike was a founding member of the Beach Boys but after growing up in Lake Oswego, Ore., Love admits this is something new for him.
"I've never been to Malibu before," admits Love, the nation's best high school basketball player and newest member of the UCLA Bruins. "It's an amazing beach this house is crazy. The sunshine is great, the food is great, the women are great, everything is great right now."
Love doesn't have much to complain about these days. Since arriving in Los Angeles three weeks ago to begin his career at UCLA -- he's taking a couple classes and working out with strength coaches -- Love has quickly adapted to the Hollywood lifestyle that comes with being the big man on campus.
His first taste of the off-the-court limelight came a couple weeks ago when he walked the red carpet at the ESPYS, posed for photographers and talked to reporters who asked him the obligatory "who are you wearing" questions after he had been named the Gatorade national high school athlete of the year.
"Walking the red carpet and experiencing what that was really a shock for the first time, but I think I could get used to that," he said. "It was a lot of fun going out there and meeting different stars. I got to meet Candace Parker. She's very fine, very good looking. The women there were great. "
At the moment one of UCLA's most prominent alums, Jaleel "Urkel" White, is talking up Love and chatting with him about the upcoming season. The previous night Love was holding court in the VIP room of The Highlands nightclub in Hollywood, chatting up partygoers who wanted to take pictures with the instantly recognizable big man. His comfort level around celebrities in these plush settings almost resembles that of a certain USC Trojan that once ruled this town.
"Hopefully I could do it big like Matt Leinart but not get in trouble with my girlfriend like he did," said Love. "I'll take what he got. As far as that goes, I'm going to take whatever comes to me and see what happens. The women out here are very nice, there's a lot to choose from. I'm obviously focused and here to play basketball but all the other stuff is going to come if I work hard."
If Love lives up to his hype -- many are calling him the best passing big man since Wes Unseld -- his time at UCLA and Hollywood may be short lived and if that's the case he thinks he'll still be able to leave his mark on the school by leading the team to its first national title in 13 years.
"I think we'll be able to reach the Final Four again and win a national championship," he said. "I grew up a UCLA fan so finally getting here and finally getting to live it and enjoy it is something else. You really can't put it into words because it's such a tremendous honor. We're following in some big footsteps and hopefully we can make them proud."
Before Love can worry about raising another banner at Pauley Pavilion he must first get past O.J. Mayo, his old high school friend and nemeses and the player some think should have been recognized as the nation's best high school basketball player. Mayo will be playing across town at USC and will no doubt be vying for Love's limelight, on and off the court this season.
"O.J. and I have a great friendship," said Love. "We're real cool but when we step onto the court we're enemies. We're going to go at each other and try to beat each other's ass but it's going to be a team thing. It should be about UCLA against USC, not me against O.J."
The chances of that happening are about as slim as both players returning for their sophomore seasons, but Love can dream. After all, it seems like he's living in one now as he's sitting on patio with nothing but miles of ocean in front of him and beautifully tanned women around him.
"There's way more pros than cons in coming here," said Love. "I really can't think of any cons. Maybe the traffic, but that's about it."