It has never been a better time to be Kevin Love. First, he was a darling of early Basketball Twitter® because of the obscene stats he put up in relative obscurity for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the dearth of talent around him and the corresponding lack of playoff appearances clearly frustrated him. When he was finally liberated to join a contender, he became something of a fall guy when he didn’t immediately gel with LeBron and the Cavs.
Now, not only is Love an NBA champion, but he covered himself in glory by playing heroic defense against Steph Curry on a crucial possession in the waning moments of Game 7. Like Chris Bosh, Love heard it for his decrease in statistical output by joining a team with other stars, and like Bosh, Love figures to be viewed in a better light now that he’s got a ring. We talked to him for Shock Doctor mouthguards about the differences between this year and last and playing on a team full of veterans as opposed to youngsters.
Dime: The first time mouthguards became something people became aware of seems to have been LeBron, when he started putting style on them. What do you think about the increased visibility of mouthguards in the NBA?
Kevin Love: I think it’s huge. When you see guys taking a moment at the free throw line, taking a breather and chewing on them or taking them out, I think it’s great to show from a grassroots perspective that mouthguards are important to protect yourself. Last year, over five million teeth were knocked out in youth sports, and 1/3 of injuries that happen in basketball are above the neck.
So in order to take notice of that, [mouthguards] have to be visible, and I think it’s great to see that.
Why are mouthguards so important to preventing injury?
I think the game has become more and more aggressive. You mention a guy like LeBron, you see him going to the hoop and making a move or playing in the post, and a lot of the times you see guys hit the floor and they’re holding their face, or they just get hit in the face. Without a mouthguard, it’s tough to say what would happen.
It’s definitely something that has become almost a part of the uniform. I keep saying that it’s just as important has having your compression tights on and to have stuff that make you durable to get through the season. And the mouthguard is important for you to go out there and know that you’re protected.