MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Timberwolves hope that the key to the Western Conference coaches' All-Star vote is through their noses.
Introducing "Numb?rs," the new fragrance by Kevin Love.
On the same day the NBA announced the starters for the All-Star game next month, the Wolves' public relations department unveiled its campaign to convince the coaches to vote their star into the game as a reserve.
A box was mailed to all Western Conference coaches that includes a bottle of "Numb?rs" cologne, a DVD with a 30-second commercial for the product that spoofs an ultra-serious fragrance ad, an advertisement that includes Love and a local model dressed to the nines and a list of his accomplishments on the back, and a bottle of face lotion just for good measure.
"It's all in good fun," Love said on Thursday after practice. "You never try to take yourself too seriously. If you can have fun with yourself it's a good part of your life."
The commercial is filmed in black-and-white, depicting Love entering a night club wearing sunglasses, a suit and a scarf. He takes off his glasses and glances at team mascot Crunch, who is surrounded by Timberwolves dancers and hoists a glass in Love's direction.
"Who has the numbers?" Love asks. "You tell me."
The team also set up a website — www.612AllStar.com — where fans can see the whole package. The area code for Minneapolis is 612.
So does the fragrance smell like sweat?
"Yeah but it's good sweat," Love said with a smile. "Good-smelling sweat."
Coach Kurt Rambis was asked if he helped Love with the acting. Rambis had a few bit parts in movies and television shows in the past when he was working with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"He doesn't want to learn acting from me," Rambis said with a chuckle. "It just goes to show you even a bad actor can get a job."
In recent years, the Timberwolves have come up with some of the most creative and funny ideas to promote their players, more out of necessity than anything else. The team has struggled mightily on the court, making it difficult for some of its high-performing players to get recognized across the league.
The Wolves sent GPS machines to coaches two years ago as part of former center Al Jefferson's "road map to Phoenix" for the All-Star game. Jefferson didn't make that team and injured his knee just before the break.
They also put together an infomercial on Love's "Miracle Glass Cleaner" as they pushed to get Love the rookie of the year award three years ago. That didn't work either, but this latest project may have the best chance at success yet, because Love has been selling himself all season.
Love is averaging 21.6 points and 15.7 rebounds per game, the first player to average at least 20 points and 15 boards in a game since Moses Malone in 1982-83.
His 15.7 rebounds per game are 2.4 more than the second-leading rebounder, Orlando's Dwight Howard, averages in a game and he had 31 points and 31 rebounds against the Knicks in November, the first 30-30 since Malone in 1982.
"There's no doubt he's an All-Star," Rambis said.
The biggest obstacle in front of Love's first All-Star game is the Timberwolves' record. Their 10 victories are tied with Sacramento for fewest in the West and their 35 losses are more than any team in the league except for the Cavaliers (8-37).
"I feel like I've done the best I could to show I'm an All-Star type talent, but I know that wins come at a premium in this league and a lot of coaches are going to look at that," Love said. "But hopefully maybe they can get past that this year and make an exception."
Rambis can't vote for Love because coaches cannot vote for players on their own team. Who knows? Maybe guys such as Rick Carlisle, Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan will be swayed by the gift. Well, maybe not Sloan.
"I know they want to see the guys who can do the windmills and the behind the back passes and throw it off the backboard and dunk it," Love said. "But I still think there should be room for players that have a throwback game or play below the rim as well, play the right way."