Kevin Love Weighs in on the NBA's Mouthguard-Chewing Epidemic (Also, His Love for Mouthguards)
October 20, 2016– Kevin Love is one of the NBA's most talked about players. He's a skilled power forward with three-point range who has found himself in headlines for the last two years as people wondered if he and LeBron James could coexist in Cleveland. Well the results are in, and the Cavs are NBA champions. This is thanks, in no small part, to Love shutting down Steph Curry in one of Game 7's biggest sequences. But that's not what this interview is about. No, this interview is about something much more important: Kevin Love's new gig as spokesman for Shock Doctor mouth guards.
GQ: I have to start with a very serious question. When did you fall in love with wearing a mouth guard?
Kevin Love (Shock Doctor mouth guard spokesman): I have always, always been in love with wearing a mouthguard. Even before I had adult braces in my early 20s and my jaw surgery. I had such a bad underbite that it was going to actually really grind away the enamel in my teeth. So I know my fair share about taking care of my teeth and protecting my mouth as well. So I very, very strongly believe in mouthguards and the Shock Doctor because I've lived it my whole life.
When I was young, if I didn't have it, I would have gotten my teeth knocked out, no question. Because the game has become far more aggressive. You know a third of basketball-related injuries happen above the neck. Five million teeth got knocked out during youth sports last year. So I definitely think it's something that all kids should fall in love with, but also people at any age, and in any demographic who are playing a sport with so much contact should be wearing mouthguards.
What do you think makes a good mouth guard versus a bad mouthguard?
I think it's safety at first, definitely, but I think that has a lot to do with fit. And then comfort. We do so much communication out there on the floor that we'll go through contact and non-contact drills with our mouth guards in. So we are able to breathe, have that breathability, but also be able to communicate. Because we have to be able to call out certain coverages on the defensive end. Plays on the offensive end. Crowd's screaming. You're at the Q. You can only hear so much, so you really have to be able to communicate your words as best as possible. And also just having the confidence to just be able to go out there and know you're protected. It's almost like you feel naked without it. It's almost like you can't play as well if you don't have your full uniform on. In a lot of ways it's become part of the uniform now.
What's the move color-wise? Do you go team colors? Do you go pop of color? Neutral color? What's the good look?
It just depends on how you feel. It's a pretty cool luxury to have that you can throw in different team colors. For me, style-wise, I try to go pretty thin, so I can breathe but still feel protected, and then on the sides, back near the molars, I like to put a little bit of color, or my number, or "K LOVE" or "CAVS." And what's great about Shock Doctor is it's the official mouthguard of the NBA now, so you can get all sorts of team colorways. And my hope is that kids will see that, think it's pretty cool, and start wearing mouth guards.
As a mouthguard expert, why do you think Steph Curry chews his mouthguard so much? Bad fit? Not a good mouth guard. What's the deal? People need to know.
[Laughs] No, I don't know if it's a bad fit. Guys just have their nervous tics. Blake Griffin does the same thing. You'll see me do it every once in a while. I'm always more curious about where guys will stuff their mouth guard when they come off to the bench. Will they put it back in the case? Will they put it in their socks? Will they put it in their spandex? What will they do?
Was it Rondo a couple years ago, who put it in his shirt like it was a lady with money in her bra? That was a fun surprise.
Personally, I always find it weird when guys put it in their socks. Like "you know you're going to put that back in your mouth, right?" Not great.