Love eager to represent US at games

It's 100 degrees in New York City, and Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love has barely slept a wink. He's just hours removed from shooting an interview for "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in Los Angeles on Tuesday night and is mere minutes from getting off a plane at JFK airport on Wednesday morning.

He's dressed in standard 20-something hipster gear -- the plaid blue shirt, the designer tennis shoes -- and he's making the rounds at a Samsung event, where he's one of five national spokespersons.

As hot and as tired and as overextended as Love might be on this June scorcher in the Big Apple, his mind is focused on another city next month.

"I can't wait for London," Love says with a giant grin during a rare moment away from the cameras and the hundreds of hoopheads in attendance at the Galaxy S III launch event in TriBeCa.

"During the NBA season, my mind's always on the task at hand. 'Who are we playing tonight? Who am I covering?' But now, it's on the opportunity to play in London, and I am just really excited for the opportunity to represent the USA on the basketball court in the Summer Games."

Love hasn't been promised a roster spot yet, but it's all but guaranteed that he'll be one of the big men playing for 2012 version of the Dream Team. Filling out the 12-man roster, there are a handful of locks to make the squad, but there's not the same size that filled out the 2008 or even 1992 outfits. Insert Kevin Love, the 6-foot-10 center?

"Coach K's asked me a few times if I could play up there, and I've told him, 'C'mon, Coach, you know I can play up there,' '' Love says, referring to USA Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski.

"I'll just have to continue to prove myself and that's something I've done my entire career."

Love has long desired to play for Team USA, but that yearning's not directly linked to the Dream Team in Barcelona. Though Kobe Bryant already was entering high school when Larry, Magic, and MJ rolled over the competition in the '92 Games, Love was only 3 years old. He has no real nostalgia for the legendary squad.

"I was a little bit young then,'' he says. "I didn't get to watch the [NBA TV] documentary yet, but I am looking forward to watching that. I saw some of the footage, but that's it, really."

Love then, notes, "I grew up thinking of the Olympics, and it wasn't just the basketball. It was the track, the swimming, and the gymnastics teams."


"Yeah, all those women from the '96 Games in Atlanta, the 2004 team, the 2008 team. That's the Olympics. It's all of that. Swimming, too," Love says.

"Look at Michael Phelps. This year, he's going for the most golds of all time. It's a special thing to watch, and it's not only about basketball. It's the biggest stage of competition."

Love first put on the Stars and Stripes in 2010's FIBA World Championship in Turkey. The United States took home the gold medal, led by tournament MVP Kevin Durant. Love averaged just eight minutes a game and saw only a minute of action in the tournament finals against Lithuania, but had a great experience playing for his nation.

"It's an experience I'll obviously never forget," Love says of his 2010 summer in Turkey. "That was the World Championship and a great few weeks of my life. The Olympics are obviously even bigger."

Love missed most of Game 4 of the NBA Finals filming his interview with Mr. Kimmel (one in which he joked that he needs to be selected to the Olympics roster to fill the "token white guy" quota), but says he's not surprised to see his UCLA teammate Russell Westbrook excelling in the NBA.

"He was the type of kid at UCLA who was always a self-starterm,'' Love says.

"He always worked hard. He's always been that guy who goes the extra mile. He's just going to continue to improve. Russell's only 23 years old, and we haven't even seen his prime yet. When that time comes, it'll be scary how good he's going to be."

With Derrick Rose's postseason injury causing the Chicago Bulls guard to miss the Olympics, it appears as though both former Bruins players should be in London, reunited and playing for the red, white, and blue.

Whereas Westbrook will be just a few weeks removed from a postseason stretch, Love -- apparently recovered from a mild concussion and neck strain, suffered in April -- is fresh and ready to go for the summer.

"Let's do it," he says with a smile as a bead of sweat forms on his forehead. "The Olympics, man. Pretty incredible."