Call them flakes, misfits or screwballs. They are athletes whose offbeat antics mystify teammates and fascinate fans and, over three centuries, Baltimore has been blessed with its share. The Baltimore Sun is counting down The Daffy Dozen, the 12 most memorable characters in the city's sports lore. Today's oddball, No. 11, is former Baltimore Bullets forward Stan Love.
Good vibrations — that's what the Bullets had when they selected him No. 1, the ninth pick in the NBA draft. Stan Love, a forward, was skinny but rugged, a 6-foot-9 shooter who'd starred for Oregon after growing up in suburban Los Angeles.
What the Bullets got from 1971 to 1973 was a carefree, blond surfing dude with Beach Boy genes — his brother, Mike Love, was lead singer of the group, which included his cousins, Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson. And Stan Love? He had a sweet jump shot, a Fu Manchu and a motorcycle. When drafted, he said he needed a map to locate Baltimore.
"Stan was a California dreamer who followed a different drummer," teammate Fred Carter said. "He wore flip-flops to games, even in winter. He was a good guy who just got stuck on the wrong coast, and in the wrong era."
Love played two seasons here, averaging 7.2 points and 4.4 rebounds a game. During a game in Milwaukee, The Sun wrote, he slammed home a dunk shot "and then hung from the rim, like Tarzan, as if waiting for a Hollywood talent scout to offer him a contract."
All he got was a technical foul.
Once he got into the game, Love hated to leave the spotlight. When subbed, he'd walk down the bench past coach Gene Shue and give him the evil eye. Knocked down in one game, he balked at being replaced and, while sitting on the floor, proceeded to "row" his way off the court, as if by boat.
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His idea of an offseason workout was playing volleyball on the beach because, he said, "In L.A., they lock all the gyms in the summer."
Love was "a free spirit, a West Coast guy who came along at a time when people weren't used to that," said Bob Ferry, then the Bullets' assistant coach. "I really liked Stan. I just wish he'd been a little more serious."
When the Beach Boys gave a concert at Maryland's Cole Field House, Love took several teammates as guests.
"It was great until Brian Wilson went off on what seemed like a six-hour riff, which he apparently was known to do," forward Jack Marin recalled.
Traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1973, Love retired two years later and became Brian Wilson's bodyguard. He still attends NBA games. Love's son, Kevin Wesley (named for former Bullets great Wes Unseld), is a three-time All-Star who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.