Love Reflects On Team USA Experience
Kevin Love returned to Target Center on Tuesday in what seems like a completely different place than he was when he left last April. He walked into his press conference with the local media with a Gold Medal in hand, and as he looked back at his time in London with Team USA there’s no question he learned a lot about himself and his goals on the basketball court.
Spending the summer with the NBA’s elite and helping the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team achieve its second straight Gold Medal, Love said the opportunity to represent his country along with that group of talent was, simply put, a dream come true.
“It might be the best team I’ll ever have a chance to play on,” Love said. “Being a part of that team and playing with the different players that make a mark on this league in a very positive way, it was unbelievable.”
Love has been part of international basketball competitions before with some of the same players he suited up with this summer, including his stint on the 2010 FIBA World Championships squad. And during his past two years as an All-Star, he’s spent a weekend each February with the NBA’s elite seeing how some of the game’s best conduct themselves and prepare for competition.
But this time around was different. The stakes were higher, the time spent together was longer and the spotlight was as bright as ever. Alongside him were a collection of perennial All-Stars, postseason contenders and NBA champions.
Each day Love said he saw different aspects of each teammate’s games that helped him understand what made them elite talents.
“All the way down to why Anthony Davis was the first pick or what makes Kobe [Bryant] great on a day-to-day basis,” Love said. “What he does on the court, what he does off the court, how he interacts with people. I think that’s what I took away from this.”
Still, it wasn’t merely a learning session.
When it was over Love not only got a Gold Medal, he was a vital piece in the U.S.’s success. On a roster filled with perimeter talent, Love mixed and matched between the 4 and 5 positions to add a rebounding and defensive presence in the paint that, aside from Tyson Chandler, the team sorely needed.
He finished the tournament as one of five Team USA players to average double-digits in points (11.6 PPG), led the team in rebounding (7.6 RPG) and shot 63.0 percent from the field. Defensively, he shined in the Gold Medal game against Spain facing a team equipped with NBA All-Stars Pau and Marc Gasol.
He averaged 17.0 minutes per night, and those minutes seemed to become more and more apparent when the game was on the line as the tournament continued. By the time it was over, he was playing during pivotal minutes late in games along with Bryant, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
Playing for coach Mike Krzyzewski and getting a chance to earn minutes from one of the game’s most decorated coaches made the experience even sweeter. As he returns to Minnesota, the combination of playing for Coach K and alongside future Hall of Famers gave Love perspective on how far he’s come and where he wants to be.
“It spoke a lot to where my game has come,” Love said. “I still have so much to prove. I feel like I haven’t nearly made my mark in this league where I should be. I’m just going to continue to keep working for the fans of Minnesota and this organization.”
That’s what keeps Love’s attention on the future, not the past. With the Wolves’ Training Camp set for next week, he’s already thinking about how he can transition from his summer accomplishments to his winter goals.
“It was a special experience I shared with my family and closest friends, but at the end of the day, hey, I got a gold medal, something I’ll always remember,” Love said. “But I need a short-term memory. Oct. 1 is the first day of training camp.”