Kevin Love announced a month ago in Times Square that he would try his hand at beach volleyball at the Manhattan Beach Open this week, sponsored in part by Jose Cuervo. In the interim he found a partner, Hans Stolfus (another basketball player turned volleyball player), trained hard with the help of Kurt Rambis’ son, Jesse, and otherwise prepped to participate in one of beach volleyball’s landmark events.
Love and Stolfus were given the last seed, forced to take on the top-seeded duo of John Hyden and Sean Scott in the opening round. Love and Stolfus lost in straight sets (21-16, 21-15) which isn’t so bad when you think about Love’s experience level here. After his match, Love spoke with SI.com about volleyball, the lockout, the Timberwolves and the possibility of playing for Rick Adelman.
SI.com: Well, how’d you do?
Love: I felt I did pretty well. It was intimidating to play on this stage against essentially the best team in pro beach volleyball. Considering I had only two or three weeks of training, I did pretty well. It was a home run for me.
SI.com: What did you improve on the most over those two or three weeks?
Love: Everything, man. Everything was really lacking at the start. I had to get my blocking down. Hitting was always going to be my strong part. I knew I could get up and blast the ball. But the touches on the passing and the setting is what I really had to get better at. If you gave me two or three years to work at this, I think I’d become a pretty good player.
SI.com: You’re tall. Did you break out the jump serve today?
Love: I did not. I practiced those, but a lot of them ended up going into the net. I had the basics down, but it is very, very tough. Serving and passing are not my strong points. I need to get over the hump on that stuff.
SI.com: You’re talking as if you’re going to play again. Have you enrolled in any tournaments? Is anything on the schedule?
Love: No. It all depends on how much time I really have. I don’t want to put myself out there in a spot where I’m not going to be able to be competitive. These guys I’m playing against have years and years over me. But I plan to keep playing when I can. We’ll have to wait and see what the NBA season is going to hold.
SI.com: Speaking of which: Are you one of the guys set to play in that Impact Basketball two-week league set to go in Las Vegas next month?
Love: I’m not sure yet. A lot of different things have come my way that I will definitely look at during the lockout. There are lots of places abroad I can play, and there’s obviously the Vegas league. But for now, I’m going to see what else comes my way.
SI.com: You mentioned in a recent interview that you had heard about a possible barn-storming tour through China. Has anything further come of that? Is it developing, or was it just something someone mentioned to you at some point and that hasn’t been brought up much since?
Love: Oh, it’s very real. I can’t put the specifics out there. But it’s a fair amount of games in China for a very substantial amount of money. That’s all I can tell you right now.
SI.com: There are reports today that Rick Adelman is interested in the Timberwolves job, to the point that he has already started contacting potential assistants. You played with Adelman’s son, Patrick, in high school, which has led to speculation that the Wolves landing Adelman might help convince you to stay in Minnesota long term. How well do you actually know Rick?
Love: I know him very well, as far as a player-coach relationship goes. Obviously I played with his son, Pat, and got to know their entire family very well. I know Mrs. Adelman from being over at their house.
SI.com: I like that you still call his wife “Mrs. Adelman.” That’s respect.
Love: I’m just old school like that. That’s how I am. But I’ve been over to Pat’s house in Portland. I’ve had lots of conversations with Rick. I always got to talk shop and basketball with him. Obviously, we’re not best friends or anything, but we have had many, many talks. I always spoke with him after games when we played Houston, and I’d wait outside of the tunnel to say hi to Rick and his wife. Who knows — maybe that will turn into a player-coach relationship.
SI.com: Have you talked to Adelman during the coaching search process?
Love: I haven’t talked to him at all. I have to let it be. Whatever the front office is going to do, that’s what they’re going to do. I am not partial to any candidate, but it is intriguing to me to possibly be coached by my buddy’s dad. I love his corner offense, with the high post player being a facilitator — to be able to pass from there, run pick-and-rolls and shoot from outside. It is very, very intriguing to think about. But I’m not partial to any side.
SI.com: Everyone loves to talk about how dangerous the Wolves could be playing up-tempo ball, but maybe the best way for you guys to become competitive every night is to be a decent defensive team. Give me one or two concrete ways — beyond just trying harder — that you guys can make that happen next season.
Love: We need, first and foremost, to have a training camp. Our focus in that camp has to be on the defensive end. We are going to pay up-tempo and all, but we’re going to have to be the scrappiest team and the dirtiest team, the kind of team where people say, “Oh, man, we have to play them tonight? On the second night of a back-to-back? We know what we’re in for.” But it has to start in training camp and with that mindset. We have to be the scrappiest team, and we can’t be afraid to hit first. That’s how the youngest team in the league is going to be respectable, and get the respect of other players and the respect of the refs. It’s easier said than done.