The Power Of Love
Rigorous Workout Routine Key To Love's Continued Success
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There’s a reason for this. Not only is working out one of Love’s passions, but it quite literally defines him as an athlete and a person. Love’s goal is to be the best he can be.
“There’s a lot of things I look at as motivation, and there’s never a lack of ambition on my end,” he said. “I’m always striving to be better, not only as a player but as a person, as a leader, as a teammate, as a son, as a brother. Whatever it is, I’m always striving to be better at different things.”
It’s why out of all the accolades Love has achieved in the past year—including an All-Star appearance and a selection as a finalist for a roster spot on the U.S. Olympic basketball team—the thing he’s most proud of in that time is winning the 2010-11 NBA Most Improved Player Award. And it’s why coming into this season Love trained harder than ever, shed 25 pounds and looked like a completely different person when he came back to Wolves training camp.
Love is driven to succeed, and the 23-year-old has no intentions of changing.
He started the 2011-12 season with 15 consecutive double-doubles, a streak the ended Saturday night in Utah. Love began the season with eight consecutive 20-point, 12-rebound performances—something no one had done since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975. He’s currently leading the NBA in minutes played, he’s second in rebounding at 14.1 per night and he’s fifth in scoring at 24.1 per contest.
He’s putting in a workload that can take its toll in a shortened lockout season, and he knows it. That’s why Love said using the offseason to his advantage is an important piece in sustaining success throughout the regular season.
He said he can feel the difference between how he played last year and how he’s performing this year already.
“You have to take care of your body, you have to be a consummate professional and want to do all things necessary to help your team,” he said. “Part of that is eating right, sleeping right, being prepared for every single game.”
It’s not going unnoticed around the NBA.
Players and coaches alike comment on Love’s versatile game when they come to Target Center. They marvel at his unique ability to leverage himself in just the right position to consistently pull down rebounds, and they ponder how they can scheme ways to keep him from getting open looks behind the 3-point line. Love is shooting 35.4 percent from behind the arc this year, and he showed his ranged again Friday night with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that sealed a 101-98 win over the Clippers.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman said Love is moving better on the floor this season and is a crucial part of the team on both ends of the floor.
“Really good players do that,” Adelman said. “He’s certainly coming in in great shape, and he’s played awfully well for us.”
Love said much it has a lot to do with the people he works with during the offseason. Through trainers Gunnar Peterson and Rob McClanaghan, as well as working out with top talent like last season’s MVP Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Al Horford, Love pushed himself all offseason to up his game.
He worked on adding confidence in this game at different parts of the floor, testing different moves and finding ways to improve on the defensive end.
Rose said it’s hard to describe Love’s drive to succeed.
“Where can I start?” Rose said. “He’s a winner. He’ll do anything to win. You know he can shoot the ball, rebound of course. There’s no question he can do no matter what.”
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle called him an unusual player—a rebounding talent that comes along every 10-15 years. Heat guard Dwyane Wade said Love looks better and better every time he watches him.
For Love, the formula is simple. He’s trying to improve one workout session at a time.
It was evident from the first day of the season.
“I remember on media day when I got in my jersey for the first time and I was flexing and (my teammates) did a double take,” he said. “They were right about you, you lost 25 pounds. I came in in the best shape of my life, and it’s paying dividends so far.”
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