I always knew there was something I liked about Kevin Love.
I used to think it was our mutual connection to the team of my childhood, the Baltimore Bullets. His dad, Stan Love, was drafted by the Bullets in 1971 and spent four seasons. Now I realize it goes even deeper.
Like Thunder general manager Sam Presti and myself, Love is a member in good standing of the “I Told You Russell Westbrook Would Be Great” Club. (Sorry, Traber. Don’t even think about submitting an application).
OK, Presti and Love were on board a little ahead of me. I didn’t realize it until about a week after the 2008 NBA Draft, when I watched Westbrook dominate the Orlando Summer League while playing for the Oklahoma City Team to Be Named Later. But after reading this story by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda and hearing Presti talk about Westbrook the last two-plus seasons, you get the feeling that Love’s pre-draft interviews may have helped sell the Thunder on Russell.
“I don’t think I knew he’d be this good, this fast,” Love said. “But I knew he could be, and would be. I hate to say that I called it, but I was always the guy telling everybody, ‘This guy is going to be special.’ ”
On what impressed him about Westbrook in Westwood: “Whether it was 7, 8 o’clock at night or 6 or 7 in the morning, he was there. I thought I was staying late or getting in early and I was always like, ‘How can I beat this kid to the gym?’ ”
On Westbrook and Durant’s performance in the FIBA world championships last summer: “They were probably our best two players on that team. Lamar [Odom] was up there with a few other guys, but those two performed the best in their roles.”
Read Zgoda’s entire article here.