Kevin Love exchanges playful trash talk with Luke Walton
Despite his wide smile, laid-back personality and joy in playing beach volleyball, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love stood on the sand ready to deliver verbal jabs at Lakers forward Luke Walton.
Days before Love made his debut with pro beach volleyball player Hans Stolfus on Thursday at the Manhattan Beach Open, Walton predicted to The Times' Melissa Rohlin that Love was "going to struggle." They had played together with Jordan Farmar and Richard Jefferson recently on the NBA-themed beach volleyball team at a popular six-on-six amateur tournament in Manhattan Beach. But Walton argued that would hardly translate into competing against pro volleyball players.
"No disrespect to Kevin; he's a great athlete," Walton stressed. "But those guys play at a high level. Kevin doesn't play much. He can play a little bit, but at that level, he's going to struggle a little bit."
When asked whether Love was the Charles Barkley of beach volleyball, Walton responded, "You can say that. He only played a couple of points on our team. He looks like he can play a little bit, but it's the difference between someone who plays basketball at the rec center and someone who plays in the NBA. He's trying to play professional volleyball against guys that do it for a living."
Walton's prediction proved correct as Love and Stolfus lost in a qualifying match Thursday in straight sets, 21-16, 21-15, to the top-seeded team in the tournament, Sean Scott and John Hyden. Love agreed with the pro volleyball players' sentiments that he looked impressive given the quick turnaround and limited experience but clearly lacked enough development to truly compete. That didn't stop Love from taking off his sunglasses, staring into a video camera and hurling the insults right back at Walton.
Many Lakers fans would compare Love's All-Star credentials with Walton's extremely limited role with the Lakers. Instead, Love jokingly wondered aloud why the Memphis Tigers would hire Walton as an assistant coach during the NBA lockout.
"They're not going to win any games at Memphis with him coaching the team," Love said in a joking manner. "It was a terrible hire and bad investment in Luke. I'm sure they'll realize when the lockout is still looming, that they're going to want that thing to end so he's out of there when the time comes."
Trust me, Love: Lakers fans feel the same way about the two years and $11.46 million left on Walton's contract, and in this case they're not joking. Nonetheless, the playful ribbing sparked conversation on Love and Walton competing against each other in beach volleyball. Jesse Rambis, son of former Lakers forward and Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis, has worked out with Love in recent weeks and argued he would defeat Walton.
"Kevin picked up some of the basics really quick and early, which is weird," Rambis said. "It's really surprising his passing and setting was good off the bat. I think it'll be a good match."
That's because Walton lives in Manhattan Beach and plays beach volleyball frequently during the off-season. At least enough for Love to compliment his game.
"He's good," Love said. "He's got it down."
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