Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 9/26/12
MINNEAPOLIS Finding Kevin Love in the Twin Cities since he returned late last week has been something of a variation on Where's Waldo. He's in Eden Prairie. He's shooting commercials. He's at Target Field. He's everywhere, it seems, and never for long. He's at the Target Center, yes, for workouts and press appearances, but that's only been a small portion of Love's docket. He's more present in the community than ever before, and as his fifth season in Minnesota looms, Love has learned the value of being a public figure. Last winter, after some slightly contentious negotiations, Love signed a contract extension with the Timberwolves for three seasons, with a player option for a fourth. So barring the All-Star power forward demanding a trade, he'll be a Minnesota resident through the 2014-15 season, if not longer. He's become the face of the Timberwolves and one of the league's most prominent players, and he's smart. Love knows that he has an opportunity, both financial and personal, to make something of his status. A player can easily be a star without doing the public things Love is doing, but it's harder for him to be beloved without this kind of effort. Love's charm is that he's an everyman: he used to be a bit chubby, can still be a little awkward and plays for a team that hasn't won during his career. By doing what he's doing, he's playing off his assets and not trying to be something he isn't. Last winter, Love started hosting Twitter meetups, where he'd tweet a time and location he'd be later in the day for a giveaway. It was an opportunity for fans to shake his hand and receive free merchandise, but he also was promoting the brand, 361 Degrees, with which he has an endorsement contract. It's one part good deed, one part self and brand promotion, and it's exactly the kind of thing a marquee player like Love should be doing. That trend continued last season; he had an octopus named after him at the Sea Life Aquarium at the Mall of America and posed for the cover of SLAM Magazine. He got his face and his message out there, to the local community and on the national stage, as much as he could, through everything from Twitter to Instagram to old-fashioned appearances. "In this day and age, social media is a big part of what we do," Love said. "It's a great way to keep fans engaged You go out there and you just try to be yourself on there and try to be a likeable person, likeable athlete and likeable guy." In the lead-up to this season, Love has capitalized on the increased attention surrounding the Timberwolves and his own rising prominence within the league. Immediately upon returning to Minnesota, he hosted the Kevin Love Basketball ProCamp at Eden Prairie High School. It was the biggest camp he's ever hosted, and he lent a personal touch, appearing to play with campers and instruct them. "It's not about me," Love said. "It's about the kids. When they're out there smiling, it geeks me up because I was in their shoes when I was a young kid as well." Love has done the typical charity circuit with the Timberwolves, participating in their Fast Break Foundation and with owner Glen Taylor on various initiatives. He's worked with St. Judes. But what's most remarkable is that he's gone beyond all that. Not everything Love does is announced through a press release. There are those Twitter meetups and other initiatives he launches through his own social media. Love is visible, and he looks like he's having fun. In the past year, Love's national profile has risen immensely. He finished last season fourth in the NBA in scoring and second in assists. He was chosen as an NBA All-Star for the second time and to play in London as a member of Team USA. Of course people are noticing. He's filmed commercials with Magic Johnson and Ricky Rubio and has hammed it up for pictures with his medal. He's doing all that, and yet he's still made his adopted city a priority. On Tuesday, Love spontaneously announced that he'd purchased 500 tickets to the Lynx's Friday playoff game against Seattle to be given away to fans. It was a big show of support from a high-profile player to a low-profile league, and no matter his motives, Love's actions meant something to the Lynx. "We really appreciate what Kevin Love is doing for our team," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "You know, Kevin's a guy that understands how much fun playoff basketball is. It's something that he wants to be a part of, and I'll let him know that I'll buy tickets when it comes time for them to be in the playoffs. But his support and the Timberwolves' support of what the Lynx are doing is really important to our players." He also threw out the first pitch at Wednesday's Twins game against the Yankees, a fun appearance that also showed support to a losing Twin Cities team. Love could have approached it like an obligation, but instead he treated it like the opportunity of a lifetime. He played catch and took batting practice. He signed autographs and stopped at times just to take it all in. When Twins manager Ron Gardenhire invited him back on Friday to take live batting practice, Love quickly accepted. He's out there in the community, showing his face and catering to fans. But, more than anything, he's having fun. Love is doing all the things that athletes should do. He's balancing the selfish with the selfless, promoting himself, his team and his brand while his fans simultaneously benefit. He may only be 24, but Love gets it. All the little things that come with his job, the hand-shaking and autograph signing and even just smiling, Love does well and willingly. It really doesn't matter if he's doing it because he was told to or out of the good of his heart. It doesn't matter simply because he's doing it and doing it well. It doesn't matter because he's having fun. Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Twitter, Facebook report engagement decline during Super Bowl

Steve Spurrier becomes special assistant to South Carolina AD

Brent Musberger wants you to bet on Joe Lunardi’s bracketology

Unranked Duke uses big first half to beat No.13 Louisville

MLB reportedly close to rule preventing collisions at second base

USOC says athletes concern about Zika shouldn't attend Games

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Von Miller shares support for embattled Johnny Manziel

The Panthers had to use a silent snap count at the Super Bowl

Report: Lakers would fire Byron Scott to hire Luke Walton

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Seahawks’ Frank Clark rips Cam Newton ‘that boy a b—‘

Report: Tom Thibodeau has 'always wanted' Knicks job

Daniel Bryan says goodbye to WWE during teary retirement speech

Paul George delivers great line about driving by Kobe Bryant

WATCH: Oklahoma beats Texas on Buddy Hield's 3-pointer

Andre Drummond hits 70-foot buzzer beater to end 3rd quarter

Duke's Allen appears to intentionally trip Louisville's Spaulding

Candidates for New York Knicks head coaching job

Attorney alleges Johnny Manziel ruptured ex-girlfriend's eardrum

Jeanie Buss may clean house in Lakers’ front office

Lisa Ann wants to reward Emmanuel Sanders for Super Bowl win

WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan to announce retirement

Nine best and worst players from 2015 NFL playoffs

Rodman wants Phil Jackson to know he’s ready to coach Knicks

Wade Phillips trolls Cam Newton with dabbing tweet

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker