Kevin Love: On the NBA Finals and that Uncle Drew commercial with Kyrie Irving
by rick olivares
“What’s up, youngblood?” I ask.
Kevin Love flashed a huge grin.
The Minnesota Timberwolves power forward is in town for the Master Game Face Challenge not as a participant in the game but in the Shooting Stars contest that precedes the exhibition match. Love had a busy second day in Manila where he visited the Manila Boys Town where he and PBA star Chris Tiu taught young boys basketball fundamentals.
I planted myself on the plush and cushioned seat next to him for what was to be a quick interview. Due to the delicate nature of the talks surrounding his status with the Minnesota Timberwolves – is he staying or is he going – under no circumstances were any media allowed to ask that question. So I make it clear.
“This will always be about buckets.”
Love let out a laugh.
The way to break the ice with a famous basketball player who for the last 45 minutes has been asked time and again almost the same questions by different media is to refer to what is a fond memory.
“I take it that you love the Uncle Drew commercials,” he said.
“Actually,” I begin, “I want first ask about the just concluded NBA Finals and then if we can get to Uncle Drew and Wes.”
“I think that the Miami Heat chose the worst time to crash – in the Finals,” began Love. “Four consecutive Finals appearances is no joke. One season alone is a grind. In between you’ve got players like LeBron suiting up for Team USA. I think that the worst thing rather than being physically tired is to be mentally drained. They sure looked like it. And it didn’t help that Dwyane Wade was hurting.”
“I am not taking anything away from San Antonio who played some of the best basketball I have seen. You have to look at the Spurs’ willingness to sit their stars at different points in the season while giving their bench time to play and soak in a lot of experience – valuable experience if you ask me. And they looked fresh and great come the playoffs and finals.”
Some say that the “team” – in this case, San Antonio, -- is superior to the “Big Three.” What is your take on this?
“I think that people just like to slap labels on things. ‘Big Three’ only points to the star players but you have a bench behind them. And that makes a team. When you say ‘team’ and as you said you refer to the Spurs, they have a ‘Big Three’ too in Tim, Manu and Tony. The Heat just lost and some people didn’t play well, that’s all.”
“You routinely play the Spurs over in the West, in terms of preparation, what’s it like to go up against them?”
“That team (San Antonio) was built through with lot of patience and by design. You have to attack and defend them in different ways. For example, if I am matched up against Tim Duncan, I try to bring him out where I can shoot over him or try to drive him. But can do the same to me since he has a great outside shot. He can put the ball or the floor too so what you want him to do it not to get a great look and force him into maybe a fade away or to pass. Or if I am on the outside they will throw someone who is very athletic like Kawhi Leonard. Knowing what you’re up against is part of the battle. There is a lot of thinking that goes into this especially when you play against well-coached teams.”
“Lastly, tell me about that Uncle Drew commercial with Kyrie Irving.”
“That was a lot of fun. Except the make-up part that took seven hours! But my model for that was my dad and my granddad. Some even said I looked just like my granddad. Obviously, the idea for the Uncle Drew commercial is to build a team and take it from there.”
“Did you have any input in playing Wes’ (the character Love portrayed in the Uncle Drew commercials)?
“Just a little bit. There was always some discussion between Kyrie and myself and the directors. But it was an easy thing to do except for the make-up.”
You said earlier that He Got Game and Blue Chips are some of those sports films you enjoyed. Uncle Drew was your first bit of acting. So did the acting bug bite you?
(Laughs) “Man, it’s the closest thing I’ll get to do to being Jesus Shuttlesworth. But no… right now, I’ll stick to something I do best and that’s play basketball.”