By Alan Shipnuck
December 11, 2013
Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love is the NBA's leading rebounder and a top-10 scorer.
Greg Nelson/SI

DAL 4, MIN 2 10:04

Dirk Nowitzki says Kevin Love (pictured) "is way beyond where I was when I was 25."
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

McClanaghan works with dozens of NBA players. He says he recommends yoga to each of them, but only Love has embraced it; he maintains his practice in-season. "It's helped make him more flexible and helped his body control and balance and given him more discipline," says McClanaghan. "It shows you how badly Kevin wants that extra edge."

Kevin Love, a versatile scorer, has been working to perfect the difficult step-back three-pointer.
Greg Nelson/SI

"In this league you're going to get your shot blocked, it's just part of the deal," Love says. "You can pout about it or you can keep playing. I choose to keep playing."

The Timberwolves have a solid starting lineup of (from left) Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin, Ricky Rubio, Corey Brewer and Kevin Love.
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

After the Mavs miss a layup, Martin can't connect on a floater in the lane. With his left arm Love is pushing 6' 6" Jae Crowder nearly out-of-bounds, but with his right hand Love delicately tips the ball off the backboard. Brewer corrals the rebound, and the T-Wolves reset. Love gets the ball back in the left block with Marion now guarding him. He turns to face him, takes two dribbles toward the baseline and then, with another pump-fake, gets Marion to leave his feet. As Marion flies by, Peter Pan-style, Love buries a one-footed fallaway from 15 feet. ("Yeah, I stole that one-footed move from Dirk.") In one sequence his unique skill set has been on display: savage strength, soft hands, textbook footwork, silky shooting touch, bulletproof confidence. The game, a 116-108 Minnesota win, is now essentially over.

Kevin Love can become a free agent after the 2014-15 season.
Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

Or, really, the next play. "One thing Flip has talked to me a lot about is how to fail quickly," Love says. "It's O.K. to make a mistake as long as you leave it behind." This is the essence of Love's greatness: a relentless commitment to making the right play. In the grand sweep of his game against Dallas, Love enjoyed no dunks, no killer crossovers, no trash talk, nothing that meets our definition of a highlight, warped as it is by braying SportsCenter hosts and YouTube mixtapes. He just did the little things over and over, until they added up to something big.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)