Kevin Love's basketball résumé is undeniably impressive. In high school, he carried Lake Oswego (Oregon) High School to three straight state championship games. At UCLA, he led the Bruins to a Final Four appearance and was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year—as a freshman! In the NBA, he's a three-time All-Star and is recognized as one of the most versatile players in the league.
This spring, Love will look to add luster to his résumé. That's when Love and his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates will begin their post-season journey, with the ultimate goal winning the NBA Championship.
STACK caught up with Love to talk playoffs, nutrition, training and more.
1. His Long-Range Game Comes From His Pops
For a 6-foot-10 power forward, Love has incredible range. Attributing his all-around game to his dad, Stan Love, who played four seasons in the NBA, Kevin says, "My Dad's 6-foot-9 and played power forward in the NBA, and he could always step outside and shoot with a great touch. He was doing it before they even had a 3-point line. He taught me how to shoot at a young age and told me not to be defined by my position. Outside shooting makes you a more valuable player. It's something I wanted to be able to do. As my game evolved and the 3-point line kept getting further back as I moved from high school to college to the NBA, I just kept working on my shot."
2. Dirk is His Toughest Match-Up
There are no easy match-ups in the NBA. Every night brings a new battle against a talented competitor. However, Love believes Dirk Nowitzki in his prime was one of the toughest players he ever had to guard. "When I first came into the league, it was Dirk," Love says. "He was still moving extremely well. He could really play well inside and outside. Over the years, he just kept making himself harder to guard."
Love also cites Kevin Garnett as an especially challenging opponent. "He's listed at 6-foot-11, but I think he's closer to 7-foot-1. His wing span is unbelievable, and he's a high energy guy. He's always been very tough to go against," Love says.
3. He Finds Time to Hit the Weight Room Despite a Crazy In-Season Schedule
The NBA schedule is merciless. If you want proof, look back to the first week of March, when the Cavs played five games in seven days—all against high-quality opponents. With stretches like that, it's a wonder how any player finds time to hit the weight room during the season. Love says it isn't easy, but it's a must: "It takes an effort. It's tough, but you've got to find the time to hit the weight room. Even if you're just in there for a few functional or correctional exercises, it goes a long way."
4. He Recovers with Chocolate Milk
Love's been drinking chocolate milk since he was a kid. He says, "My brother and I, we would probably go through a gallon of chocolate milk every couple of days. We'd be playing different sports outside and on the blacktop for hours, and when we came back inside we'd always pour ourselves a glass of chocolate milk."
Back then, Love didn't know about the muscle-building properties of chocolate milk—he just loved the way it tasted. "Probably in college, I learned that chocolate milk was actually beneficial for athletes," he says. "It's got a lot of high-quality protein and nutrients for muscle recovery. That's why I love using it post-workout."
Love recently teamed up with the BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK campaign to help educate athletes on the benefits of drinking chocolate milk. Read more about it at BUILTWITHCHOCOLATEMILK.com.
5. His Secret to Nutritional Success is Commitment
Ever since he arrived in the NBA, Love has been slowly transforming his body. Coming into this season, he was leaner and meaner than ever before. He says it's all about commitment. "You've got to find what works for you and stick with it," he avers. "For me, it's easier to be 100 percent in on my diet than partially in and eating some things I'm not supposed to. There's a saying, 'a small leak can sink a great ship.' That's my philosophy when it comes to my diet."
6. But His High School Diet Wasn't That Great
Many pro athletes can't believe what they ate in high school, and Love's no different. "If you looked at my body in high school and college, you could tell I wasn't always eating the right way," he says. "I've always been a gym rat and always constantly played basketball, but back then I didn't really look like it. Your body is made in the kitchen. If you can hit nutrition on the head early on in your career, it will really help you in the long run."
7. He Skipped the Big Dance to Go Hoop
In high school, Love often chose to ignore his social life in favor of shooting hoops. He says, "All I wanted to do was play basketball. I missed the high school dances because I wanted to play basketball. I missed hanging out with my friends because I wanted to play basketball." Ball is life, indeed.
8. He's Pumped for His First Playoffs
Love's first playoffs are a test he's looking forward to. "It means a lot," he says. "Right now, we're trying to finish out the season on a strong note. But I'm excited for the playoffs—it's going to be a great experience and something I can learn from. Hopefully we'll win a few rounds, get into the Finals and give ourselves a chance to win the Larry O'Brien trophy."
9. He's a Big Fan of The Player's Tribune
Love is a Senior Editor for The Player's Tribune, the website founded by Derek Jeter where athletes can post their own articles. "It gives us a sounding board and a place where we can put out exactly what we want to without it being filtered. I think it's a great idea," Love says.
Anyone who doubts Love's priorities should check out the article he wrote for the Tribune back in October. In it, he concluded with the words, "I came to Cleveland because I want to win. I'll grab a broom and sweep the floors if it gets me an NBA title."
10. A Hellacious Back-to-Back Was His "Welcome to the NBA" Moment
In terms of realizing how tough it was to play in the NBA, Love cites a stretch during his rookie season when he was forced to guard future Hall of Famers on consecutive nights. "My rookie season, I subbed in one game and had to guard Tim Duncan in San Antonio. Then we flew home and I had to guard Kevin Garnett the very next night. That's not easy when you're 19 or 20 years old," Love says.
11. He's Not Surprised by Russell Westbrook's Success
Russell Westbrook is on an amazing tear right now, racking up triple-doubles on an almost nightly basis. Once upon a time, Westbrook and Love were roommates and teammates at UCLA. Love says, "I think he's probably the most devastating player at his position and his size in the entire league. It's pretty incredible the numbers he's putting up with the triple-doubles, but to me, that's just Russ going out there and getting it done."
12. He Admired and Looked Up to Steve Nash
Steve Nash recently announced his retirement after a dazzling 18-year career. To Love, Nash was a once-in-a-generation talent.
"His awards kind of speak for themselves. He's a guy that always deserved a lot of gifts from his teammates, because he got a lot of people paid. He made a lot of players look better. He made a living off of setting guys up and playing the pick and roll, and he's also one of the better shooters of all time. He's a guy I could go on and on about, and he was definitely one of my favorites growing up," Love says.
13. He Wants to Play for a Long, Long Time
Though he's already played in over 430 career games, Love isn't planning on hanging up his sneakers any time soon. "I want to play 10 or 15 more years," he says. "However long I can, until my body can't do it anymore."
14. He's All In For UCLA
Not surprisingly, Love is picking his alma mater to go all the way in the NCAA tournament. "They've got a tough game against Gonzaga coming up. But the Pac-12 was a pretty good conference this year, and I don't think many people expected UCLA to get this far. They're playing with a chip on their shoulder, so I'm picking UCLA," he says.