Locked-out Love headed to beach volleyball court
By Brian Mahoney, AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK -- Locked out of NBA arenas, Kevin Love is headed to the beach.
Beach volleyball, that is.
The NBA's leading rebounder plans to play in next month's Manhattan Beach Open on the pro volleyball tour, finding himself a paycheck while he's not earning one on the basketball court.
"I thought it was a great idea, a way for me to be out in the sun, be active and have fun during the lockout," Love said Tuesday after practicing with pros for the first time. "It's sport, it's active, it's a way to stay in shape, so I just thought it was a home run."
The Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star doesn't have a partner yet and hadn't played much lately before working out Tuesday on a court set up in Times Square, but says he hopes to survive the first day of the three-day, $200,000 event to be held from Aug. 26-28.
"More than anything, I'm just going to be having fun with it, playing as much as I can up to that point and just working on my craft," Love said.
Love has deep ties to the sand. His uncle Mike was a member of the Beach Boys, and Love was born in Santa Monica, Calif. and has spent his offseasons there since playing for UCLA. His father, who used to play volleyball against Wilt Chamberlain, asked him a couple of years ago if he was ever going to get into beach volleyball.
The opportunity came when Love was approached by representatives of Jose Cuervo, the tour sponsor that has four events scheduled this year.
The versatile Love averaged 15.2 rebounds last season and is a reliable 3-point shooter who had the NBA's first 30-point, 30-rebound game in 28 years. The adjustment to the sand will be difficult, but he said he was pleased after hitting the ball around and even diving for some shots Tuesday.
"I'm not necessarily expecting to win, but I'm expecting to go out there and compete," Love said.
Love said he has respect for the pros he'll compete against and acknowledged they may target him as a weak link, but said he's "hoping to surprise them."
His preference would be to return to the basketball floor, coming off his breakthrough season and hoping a good follow-up could land him on the U.S. Olympic team next summer. And he's not worried about the risk of injury in the meantime.
"That's the elephant in the room right now, but at the same time it's like with basketball. If you go out there and play hard most of the time, you're not going to get hurt," Love said. "If you're loafing and not going 100 percent, then you're more likely to suffer."