Kevin Love – A Career Overview
It just seemed like everything was lined up perfectly for Kevin Love to become a star player in the National Basketball Association.
As a Kid
Love’s father, Stan Love, was a star on the University of Oregon basketball team and was selected with a top-10 pick in the 1971 NBA Draft. Love’s middle name is “Wesley,” as he was named after Wes Unseld, the former Washington Bullets center, and friend of the Love family. Love grew up in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and became good friends with a kid named Klay Thompson.
As a high school player at Lake Oswego High School, Love led his team to the state 4A tournament four straight years and the state championship game three straight years; he won a state title in 2006. To this day, he ranks as one of the greatest high school basketball players in the history of the state, as he set the scoring record for Oregon state preps with 2,628 points, en route to being named the 2007 Gatorade National Male Athlete of the Year.
Getting the Wooden Award All-America Team
After debating between UCLA and the University of North Carolina, love enrolled at UCLA, and in his one season in Westwood, he was named a consensus first-team All-American, selected to the Wooden Award All-America Team, and named a finalist for both the Naismith and Wooden Awards. He also led UCLA to the Final Four of the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
Love was actually selected by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 5th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft but traded in a draft night deal to the Minnesota Timberwolves. At the end of his rookie season in Minnesota, Love finished among the top 10 in the NBA in rebounds and offensive rebounds; in fact, he became the first rookie to lead the league in offensive rebounding percentage since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984–85.
The Timberwolves & The Cavaliers
Over the next two seasons, Love became one of the most dynamic scoring and rebounding dual-threats in the NBA. In November of 2010, Love became the just the 19th player in NBA history to finish a game with at least 30 points and 30 rebounds. In that game against the New York Knicks, Love’s 31 rebounds set a Timberwolves franchise record and were also the most by a player in an NBA game since Charles Barkley recorded 33 rebounds in a game in 1996.
Love continued to be one of the league’s most underrated stars in Minnesota but was often overlooked in the conversation of the league’s best players as the Timberwolves continued to struggle. Prior to the start of the 2014 season, the Timberwolves traded Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers, pairing him with LeBron James. Love became a part of the Cavaliers team that went to the NBA Finals three consecutive years, though he sat out of the 2015 NBA Finals after suffering a shoulder injury. However, one year later, he would win his first-ever NBA championship, when the Cavaliers upset the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.
As the Cavaliers begin their quest to appear in their fourth-straight NBA Finals, many people look at Love as James’ most dangerous teammate, and the one who will be asked to step up the most amidst a younger and relatively inexperienced crew.