THE CAVS ALL-STAR CONTINUES TO EVOLVE AND ADAPT ON AND OFF THE COURT.
For Kevin Love, it’s been a tale of two careers. The average young fan may not fully remember the earlier “version” of K-Love—the double-double machine who made a living in the post and played for a low-on-drama (and wins) Timberwolves squad. Fast-forward to today, Love has made three consecutive NBA Finals appearances after being traded to the Cavaliers, helping LeBron and the boys bring a chip back to the Land in 2016.
It’s remarkable to consider just how much Love has transformed since his UCLA and Minnesota days. The self-described “doughy” kid from Lake Oswego, Oregon trimmed down significantly by the early 2010s, gracing the cover of ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue in 2015. He also developed into a pseudo-perimeter player, knocking down threes with the best of them. Then of course, there’s also the emergence of fashionisto-model Kevin Love (a.k.a. Lil Kev, as coined by teammate Richard Jefferson). In fact, he’s a brand ambassador for Banana Republic.
Interestingly, K-Love’s growth on the hardwood runs parallel with his growth off the court. As he cut weight, he shifted from the post to the corner 3-point line. After he changed cities and altered his style of play, his fashion game turned up several notches. Love has matured in every sense of the word, and his diverse profile has equipped him to succeed in all aspects of his life—no matter what the critics say.
IT'S DIFFICULT TO OVERSTATE HOW DIFFERENT THE NBA WAS WHEN KEVIN LOVE WAS SELECTED FIFTH IN THE 2008 DRAFT. At the time, the 6-foot-10 big man weighed 270 pounds, and his sturdy frame was considered ideal for the clanging and banging he was expected to do on the low block. Size, tenacity on the boards, and an uncanny ability to unleash a dime of an outlet pass were why teams fell in love with the Bruins’ power forward.
When asked what the prototypical 2008 big man needed to look like, Love has to think for a moment: “2008? You have to have size, be an able rebounder, have good touch around the basket…and defend.” Any shooting outside the paint was just extra icing on an already decadent cake. Few analysts, coaches, and team execs were comfortable with the notion of a big feeling more at home behind the arc.
But the game was changing. Mike D’Antoni, the innovator of the “seven seconds or less” offense, emphasized a pace-and-space style that relied heavily on the 3-point shot. Houston Rockets’ GM Darryl Morey preached the analytical benefits of hoisting up dozens of threes rather than shooting mid-range jumpers. Kevin Love took notice.
DURING HIS LAST THREE SEASONS IN CLEVELAND, LOVE HIT AN AVERAGE OF 149 THREES PER YEAR. This after knocking down 125 in his first three years in the NBA combined. Love’s effectiveness from 3-point land has been crucial to the Cavaliers’ success, especially playing alongside superstar slashers like LeBron James and (formerly) Kyrie Irving. Love’s chameleonic ability to adapt to the players around him will be instrumental in facilitating the on-court transition for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs’ biggest (figuratively) off-season acquisition.
The trend towards the triple can be seen all over today’s NBA. Teams now attempt almost 10 more 3-pointers per game than in Love’s rookie season. The evolution of the big man—from being stationed in the post to catching-and-shooting from 25 feet away—jacked up the numbers and birthed the surplus of unicorns galloping through the league. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzinigis, and Joel Embiid all shoot efficiently from 3-point territory. Even other traditional bigs, such as Marc Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins, are stepping beyond the arc to stretch defenses.
Detractors argue Kevin Love isn’t putting up the same type of numbers he did in Minnesota, which is true in terms of volume. He also plays alongside two bonafide all-stars in Cleveland (one of whom happens to be the best player in the world). Really, people should praise Love for making sacrifices—changing the way he played—to complement his team and adjust to an ever-evolving NBA.
LOVE REALIZED THAT ALTERING HIS GAME WOULD INVOLVE MORE THAN JUST PRACTICING 3-POINTERS DURING THE OFF-SEASON. The four-time all-star had to tailor his diet and training regimen to being able to sprint from under the basket on one end to the corner 3-point line on the other as the Cavs push the ball.
“This is often overlooked, but I’ve learned over the years on how to better listen and take care of my body,” Love says. His preparation for the season includes a mix of basketball, weightlifting, and healthy eating.
and plan out my meals everyday."
Really, it all starts with his nutritionist, Dr. Philip Goglia of G-Plans, who offers modified health and nutrition programs based on a client’s individual metabolism. “He’s completely customized my diet based on my metabolic rate and how I process food, and I trust him completely,” Love says. “ Like many contemporary players, Love also employs a full-time chef in Cleveland who plans out his meals everyday.
WHAT EXACTLY DOES KEVIN CONSUME ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS? Well, the perpetually trolling Richard Jefferson has famously offered his opinion on the strict diet.
Specifically, Love eats “three to four eggs in the morning for breakfast with almond butter. Throughout the day, I stick to lean meats with high-iron veggies like beets or spinach. Then I’ll have snacks throughout the day consisting of bananas, honey—all things that help to keep my inflammation down.”
RJ wasn’t joking. K-Love’s fitness has helped the Cavs reach the finals every season since he arrived in Cleveland.
everyone else, so i keep myself busy.
shout-out to the hound."
That said, even NBA players can’t work on their game 24/7. In his downtime, Love appreciates a good autobiography since he loves “learning what makes people tick.” And when he’s not reading, he’s tuned into the HBO phenomenon that the rest of America is obsessed with.
“I am a [Game of Thrones] superfan like everyone else, so I keep myself busy,” Love says. “Shout-out to the Hound.”
BEYOND HIS FITNESS AND STYLE OF PLAY, KEVIN LOVE HAS EVOLVED IN ANOTHER ASPECT OF HIS LIFE: HIS STYLE GAME. Coming up, Love wasn’t necessarily known for his fits. Now, he’s consistently donning fresh threads through the Q and at post-game pressers. His ambassadorship with Banana Republic reflects it.
“I’ve had a phenomenal relationship with Banana Republic for the past two years,” Love reflects. “The team there is amazing and has been a pleasure to work with…Their suits are timeless and classic.”
The difference in appearance between the be-suited 2017 Kevin Love and the buzz cut, jersey- and sweats-wearing rookie prodigy is striking. At first glance, you might not even recognize them as the same person.
to be overdressed."
When asked about the profound change, Love laughs and explains: “I’ve always been interested [in fashion], but it’s taken me time to articulate what I like and what I don’t like. I had to find different sources of inspiration as I got older and found my aesthetic.”
LIKE HIS OLD UCLA PAL RUSSELL WESTBROOK, LOVE HAS FOUND HIS FASHION FREEDOM.
“I will say, I’m never afraid to be overdressed.”
Watching Kevin Love’s metamorphosis into a fashion-forward NBA star has been almost as impressive as the development of his electric 3-point shooting, or even a body that’s now featured in glossy magazine spreads.
figure out what works for me and what
I gravitate towards, [Fashion-wise]."
"A lot like my game, it has taken time to figure out what works for me and what I gravitate towards, [fashion-wise]." Kevin says. “In a few words, I can say that I am much more grown up now.”