Souhan: 'Amazing' Love and his team belong in Rio -- at any age

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 12, 2012 - 11:29 PM

The United States' Kevin Love grabbed a rebound in front of Spain's Pau Gasol during a men's gold medal basketball game Sunday. The Americans won 107-100.

Photo: Eric Gay, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

LONDON - What's wrong with excellence?

What's wrong with the United States being the best in the world at a game it invented, with fighting to maintain its advantage over a basketball world that improves yearly?

Imagine if David Stern ruled world basketball.

Imagine if the NBA commissioner could have imposed his basketball world view on the 2012 Olympics, could have restricted the roster to players 23 years and younger.

You would have seen a bunch of recent non-graduates from the University of Kentucky playing the sloppy, AAU-style basketball that now dominates the woeful college game, instead of what we were privileged to watch Sunday: basketball artistry woven with nationalistic passion.

Stern would have had us miss LeBron James displaying an on-court maturity to match his gifts, and Chris Paul weaving through the Spanish defense with the game on the line.

And four years from now, had everyone in the Olympic and FIBA hierarchy not rejected Stern's notion as if it were a Darko Milicic layup, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love would have been barred from playing together in the 2016 Olympics.

These guys belong in Rio. They even belong in the same sentence. As the United States beat Spain 107-100 in the gold medal game of the Olympic tournament Sunday, Love proved more than worthy of a roster spot; he proved essential.

Love contributed nine points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes. He led the team in rebounding for the tournament. More important, when Spain's Pau Gasol began dominating in the second half, it was Love, never known for his defensive prowess, who put a stop to it.

"Kevin Love was amazing,'' Paul said. "He was so valuable to our team. Everybody on this team knows we couldn't have won it without him.''

On a team of stars, Love played key minutes down the stretch and left the floor in the last minute of the game along with James, Durant and Paul.

"Kevin Love, I thought he had a great tournament for us,'' said director of USA basketball Jerry Colangelo. "I didn't chastise him when I made a comment early on; I just said he's not playing as well as he can. And he said that was true. And he stepped up and did it.

"He's one of the real unsung heroes on this team.''

Before the Olympics started, Colangelo questioned Love, and Love questioned the Timberwolves' commitment to winning, and Stern questioned whether he should continue to send his biggest stars to the Olympics.

Three weeks later, Love had made himself indispensable, the Wolves had added two members of the bronze-winning Russian team, and Stern had suddenly become mute.

Love wants to play in Rio. Of course he does. Thanks to Colangelo and USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, and a generation of NBA stars who took pride in representing their country with passion and class, spending summers playing basketball for free has become cool again.

"Of course, of course, I'd love to go to Rio and compete,'' Love said. "At that time I'll be heading into the prime of my career and it will be another unique experience. Hopefully they won't put that rule in.''

The gem of that quote is this: Love has progressed from intuitive rebounder to strong all-around player to star in the past three years. In 2011-12, he averaged 26 points and 13 rebounds. As he proved with his defense and adaptability during the Olympics, he's both a star and a work in progress.

"Definitely, numbers-wise, I can get better,'' he said. "But also as an overall player I can get better. Whether it's 25, 26, 27, I think that's the beginning of your prime, where you've really figured out the game and your body has matured and you've come into your own and become a seasoned veteran.

"That's what I'm looking forward to.''

Luckily for a world of basketball fans, we can look forward to seeing him in Rio with Durant, Paul and the rest of his peers.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. •

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 11:00 AM
UAB 11:00 AM
Rutgers 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 11:00 AM
Texas 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 11:00 AM
Memphis 11:00 AM
North Carolina 11:30 AM
San Jose St 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 1:00 PM
Akron 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Ohio U 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 1:30 PM
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Nevada 10:59 PM
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM


question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters