Bob Love won't stop talking. When the former Bulls All-Star isn't making one of his six or seven weekly speeches as the team's director of community affairs, he's working the streets as a rookie politician. Chicago's second-leading alltime scorer (behind you-know-who) is among the candidates vying to become the South Side's 15th Ward alderman, on Feb. 25. The running of this Bull is amazing, considering that he once stuttered so badly he couldn't do interviews and that eight years after his career ended, he was making $4.75 an hour as a bus-boy and dishwasher in a Seattle caf�.
Though he earned as much as $105,000 a year in his 11 seasons with the Bulls, Cincinnati Royals, Knicks and SuperSonics, Love's life fell apart quickly after his retirement in 1977. While living in Seattle in the mid-1980s, he needed back surgery, which put him on crutches; doctors said he might never again walk correctly. Shortly afterward his wife left him, taking all the money in their joint bank account, he says, and leaving a note that read, "I don't want to be married to a stutterer and a cripple."
That led him to the job in the caf� at Nordstrom's, where John Nordstrom, head of the store, offered to pay for speech therapy. Love accepted, and a year and a half later he had his stutter under control. Nordstrom put him in charge of health and sanitation for the store's 150 caf�s. In 1991 Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf heard about Love's progress and brought him back to handle community relations for the franchise, a job that Love says inspired a desire to run for office.
Although Love has endured charges from political rivals who say he spends too much time away from the South Side, his name recognition makes him a serious threat in the alderman's race. Even if he doesn't get elected, Love will still feel like a winner. As he said on the Today show last week, "For me to be here this morning and utter one word to you without stuttering makes me the happiest person in the world. It's a dream come true."