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Kevin Love loses opening round in Manhattan Beach Open, talks lockout

August 25, 2011 |  4:26 pm
Former UCLA Bruins star and current Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love made his pro beach volleyball debut Thursday at the Manhattan Beach Open, but it didn't last too long. 

Beneath blue skies and with nary a breeze, Love and his partner, Hans Stolfus, were knocked out in straight sets, 21-16, 21-15, by the top-seeded team in the tournament, Sean Scott and John Hyden.

Scott and Hyden, who won a tournament last week in Hermosa Beach, took it easy on Love and Stolfus, the lowest-seeded team in the tournament, so the score looks much closer than it could have been.

"You don't want anybody getting hurt out there," Hyden said. "Kevin's got a long career to think about. If we were all really getting after it, all four of us, it could get a little dangerous."

Scott and Hyden, who are both Olympic hopefuls, are favorites to win the Open so it's not as though they wanted to expend all their energy in what should be considered an exhibition. 

"We've got a long weekend ahead of us," Scott said.  

Still, the 6-foot-10 Love looked much more graceful in his pro beach volleyball debut than Shaquille O'Neal did when he tried it in Hermosa Beach for his short-lived TV show. By the middle of the second set, Love had three straight kills at one point and seemed to get into a rhythm.  

"It was a very, very good experience," Love said. "I look forward to keep playing."

In what fashion? In the next Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball series event in Miami in September?

"You never know," Love said. "I think it would've been fun to play in the qualifying rounds, but it's just as good playing against two of the best players in the world. They have their hours in. I have my 10,000 hours in -- we're using a little Malcolm Gladwell here -- I have my 10,000 hours in basketball and they have their 10,000 hours in volleyball, so I need to even it up and it's going to take time.

"But who knows, in six, 12, 18 months, I think if I keep playing I could be decent."

Stolfus was impressed with Love, who never played volleyball in high school or college. The two practiced together just three times.

"He's a quick learner," Stolfus said. "It's really incredible. He's such a good athlete."

Hyden and Scott each gave Love a B for his effort, considering how raw he was at the sport. 

"I wouldn't tell him to quit his day job, especially because he makes about 7,000% more than us," Hyden said. 

Funny thing is, with the lockout in force, Love technically doesn't have a day job.

And on that subject, Love said he's not sure when it will end but that players expect to miss games.

"I think all the players, they really want to play basketball, and hopefully we can work out the right deal more than anything," he said.

Love said the opportunity to play overseas has presented itself and he mentioned possibly taking part in a potential barnstorming tour through Asia in October that would include, he said, "all the top players."

The Times reported in July about a potential tour to China that could include Kobe Bryant.

Since the Timberwolves are a young team, with two incoming rookies in former Arizona forward Derrick Williams and Spanish guard Ricky Rubio, Love said his team can ill afford to miss games early on because it will hinder its ability to gel on the court.

"You get a team like the Celtics and the Lakers, they've played together and they have an older team and a veteran team and [not playing is] only going to allow them to rest. But they have played together and they'll be able to come in and coexist and be able to work," Love said.

"For us, we need that time on the floor for us to get better. I don't want it to hurt us, but it doesn't matter any way you put it. We need to get time on the floor, especially out there with Derrick and Ricky,  and really all the guys because we've blown up our team in the last few years."

Is Love confident he'll stay in Minnesota? There were rumors he'd join the Lakers.   

"You never know," he said. "There's a lot of things that are intriguing."

And how is he spending his free time, which up until Thursday he used to prepare for this tournament?

Well, he's working out -- a lot. He said he's playing basketball six days a week, doing yoga up to three times a week, and he said he's going to start running track at UCLA soon. He also said he works out with trainer Gunnar Peterson four times a week.

Aside from that, he's taking one class at UCLA: American pop culture, taught by professor Mary Corey, "who I adore and love," he said. 

MORE:

Manhattan Beach Open is on the comeback trail

Kevin Love tries his hand at beach volleyball

-- Baxter Holmes

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