Love Lies Bleeding: Kevin Love pulls the plug on his UCLA career; Russell Westbrook also declares for the NBA Draft, but neither player hires an Agent
The only viable scenario left that has Kevin Love returning to UCLA for his Sophomore season is one where Kevin sustains an injury. Where’s Jeff Gillooly when you need him?
Of course we don’t really want the best Bruin Varsity Freshman EVER to suffer an injury — That’s just a testament to how much we will miss him (not to mention how much the TEAM will miss him), as Kevin Love has officially announced his intentions to enter his name into the NBA Draft. Kevin will NOT hire an Agent yet, but only to maintain his college eligibility in the case of a freak injury that would keep him from getting Drafted.
HERE’S TO YOU, Kevin, for giving Bruin fans 110% of your energy and effort for 12 months, and for living up to the hype (unlike your equally-celebrated “worse half” across town, who also had a Presser on Thursday, to which nobody came). Also appreciated is Kevin’s OFF-THE-COURT behavior, which has been impeccable from the first day he was recruited. He did complain about not getting the ball, but he was SO in the right, that you have to cut him some slack. Especially since his future behavior might include donating to the UCLA Program.
At Kevin’s Press Conference, he talked about staying involved with UCLA after he’s in the Pro’s, to maintain a Legacy in Westwood. He also talked about staying in school now – he has classes on Mondays and Wednesdays – and about coming back in the future to earn his degree. Several times he mentioned how his Mom would kill him if he slacked off on Academics. When a dizzy local Reporter who thought it was Wednesday asked Kevin if he skipped class for the Press Conference, Love said no, and repeated that he hasn’t missed any classes. Then he realized that it was Thursday, and jokingly accused the “Media” of purposely trying to “catch” him in a lie about an academic violation. “Oh, you Media!” It was the kind of charismatic humor that will make Kevin a Star Broadcaster after his 15-20 successful years in the NBA.
And an hour after Kevin announced, his teammate Russell Westbrook took the same stage, and made the same revelations. Russell will test the waters, and if he projects as a 20th or higher pick, he will be gone. Many prognosticators have Russell ranked in the Top 20, so the smart money right now would be on Russell joining Kevin – and maybe Darren Collison, who still hasn’t revealed his intentions – in the League.
In between those two Press Conferences, there was another one, in which Nikki Caldwell was introduced as the new Head Coach of the Bruins’ Womens Basketball team. First-time Head Coach Caldwell has been an Assistant under the John Wooden of the Women’s game – Pat Summitt – at Tennessee for the last 6 years, where the Vols are coming off Back-to-Back National Championships. Caldwell also played for Summitt, and was the Defensive Star Guard on the ’91 National Championship team. We have never given any Love to the Womens’ team, but only because whenever we stray to any Bruin teams other than the main two, we get virtually ZERO response. But if Caldwell can bring a National Championship-contending atmosphere to her Program, then maybe all of that will change.
Caldwell prides herself — Coaching-wise — on Defense and Rebounding, and she believes in a strict Man-to-Man Defense. Sound familiar??? What’s more, before she went in to this de facto tribute to Ben Howland, Howland had just come up to me and asked if he could sit on the table next to me. Just as Rick Neuheisel was present to support Howland during Love’s Presser, Howland was there to support Caldwell. I couldn’t believe he wanted to sit on a table, but I jumped up and said that it would be an honor to give up my position for HIM. Seriously!
Instead of rolling his eyes or blowing me off, Howland prolonged direct eye contact with me, thanked me, and gave me a smile that showed that he really appreciated the respect and support, especially on a ultra-traumatic day for him… He really didn’t want Caldwell to get the gig… Just kidding — Of course I meant that it was traumatic to (probably) lose two huge NBA talents who will be nearly impossible to replace overnight.
Below are a dozen more close-up and personal photos from the Press Conference. Special thanks to Sports Information Director Marc Dellins, for not kicking me out despite my utter lack of credentials, literally, and figuratively. And the best way I know of to thank him, is to continue to crop him out of pictures where the camera doesn’t do him justice.