Column: Kevin Love Gets Rare Chance To Talk Hoops With One Of His Childhood Idols

Former NBA standout Grant Hill stopped by Target Center last week to meet with Kevin Love and learn a bit more about what makes him such a unique player. Their conversation aired on NBA Inside Stuff on Saturday. (Photo Credit:

Column: Kevin Love Gets Rare Chance To Talk Hoops With One Of His Childhood Idols

Kevin Love was no different than any of us as a kid. He grew up watching the NBA and idolizing players he saw playing around the league—hoping one day he could, too, get his shot at pro ball. For most of us, that doesn’t happen. For Love, not only is he living that experience but he’s also one of the top players at his position.

Because of his skill level, he’s getting a chance to see some of the players he looked up to most as a kid compliment him on his game. It happened this week when Grant Hill—the longtime NBA standout who retired this year after 18 seasons—stopped by Target Center to talk hoops with Love. The two met at Huberts for lunch, then went to the LifeTime Fitness Training Center so Love could showcase a bit of his rebounding and outlet passing prowess.

The interview aired on NBA Inside Stuff, which Hill now hosts, on Saturday morning and is also available online at

For Love, it was a unique experience that most of us could only dream of. After all, Love looked up to Hill and his game as a kid—even had Hill’s turquoise road Pistons jersey “back in the day.” Now, after actually playing against him while Hill was with Phoenix and the L.A. Clippers during the tail-end of his career, Love now really got a chance to chat with one of the guys he enjoyed watching most.

“He was one of the three, four, five guys I idolized—to be with him today was really a lot of fun,” Love said on Tuesday. “He’s transitioned well; he’s a natural on camera. He’s a natural at asking the questions. It was a lot of fun being out there with one of my childhood idols, one of the guys I looked up to and explaining the game like he didn’t know.”

The two just met in passing when they played against each other over the past five years, but Hill said this was the first time he had a chance to really sit down and get to know Love on a personal level. They dined at Huberts and talked about Love’s game, his skill set and where some of his unique abilities came from. Love told him part of his rebounding philosophy came from meeting Bill Russell at the Rookie Transition Program. Russell told him 80 percent of rebounds happen below the rim, and he took that with him into his career.

They discussed Love’s work ethic and how he’s become such a dangerous perimeter shooter. Hill, who has a naturally genuine demeanor and as big a fan of the game as ever even after spending two decades in the league, really approached the interview with the intent of learning a bit about one of the NBA’s rising stars.

What really impresses Hill about Love’s game is while he’s an elite rebounder in the league, he’s also very talented across the board.

“I played against some great [rebounders], and I think the thing that sticks out is he’s a great rebounder but he’s also great at other things, too,” Hill said. “A lot of times other guys, at least the ones I played against in the last 20 years, tend to focus or specialize on rebounding. The fact that he’s a great offensive player, he’s a great passer, he’s an All-Star who happens to be the best rebounder in the game is really special.”

When the two came down to the practice court and chatted hoops while Love demonstrated some of his rebounding and outlet passing, that was really a cool experience to watch. We’re talking Grant Hill here—the guy who tossed the full-court pass to Christian Laettner against Kentucky in perhaps the most iconic college basketball play of all time. He’s a two-time NCAA champion, a seven-time All-Star and one of the NBA’s great talents of his generation—a player who missed out on his very best years due to injuries. And on the other side you’ve got Love, who we watch every night and get to appreciate just how good of a player he’s turning out to be.

And the kicker was Hill seemed very much in awe of what Love is able to do. He asked Love to send a few outlet passes his way—one of which Hill couldn’t corral and zipped out of bounds. He listened as Love described his rebounding, using his line about showing finesses with one hand while using the force of a gladiator with the other.

“Kevin is a great talent, great work ethic, great feel for the game,” Hill said. “He just is a complete All-Star, and you know he’s one of those guys that you look forward to watching when he plays.”

I’ll have the a full Q&A with Grant Hill posted tomorrow—I caught up with him for about five minutes after the two wrapped up taping their segment. Their conversation was a really cool example of dreams coming true—of a 25-year-old All-Star entering the prime of his career getting to describe his game to another former All-Star whose jersey he once wore to school. And the video will appear on a show that, in its former incarnation, Love also used to watch growing up.

In basketball, sometimes things come full circle. That was the case on Tuesday at Target Center.

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