At around 9 p.m. on Friday, Bill Fairweather received a surprising phone call from one of his employees at The Greatest Bar, of which he is co-owner.
A few minutes later, Fairweather raced from his home on the North Shore to the establishment located across the street from TD Garden, home of the Celtics.
Apparently, Kevin Love had just walked in, unannounced.
The Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward had arrived in Boston for the weekend to check out the city, a sightseeing visit that sent Celtics fans into a frenzy about the possibility that Love will join the team — perhaps this summer.
The 25-year-old is expected to opt out of the final year of his deal with the Timberwolves, making him an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The Timberwolves risk losing Love without compensation if they don’t move him this offseason, or before the February trade deadline.
In what has become known as the “Summer of Love,” many teams are focused on acquiring Love through a trade – and league sources say that includes the Celtics, who can offer an array of assets, namely draft picks. They have as many as 17 picks over the next five years, including 10 in the first round.
So when Fairweather walked up to the second floor mezzanine level of his bar, he spotted Love eating dinner with a longtime friend and his trainer.
“Is the deal done?” Fairweather asked, hoping for good news.
Love laughed and shook his head. “No,” he said.
But over the next few hours, the two talked plenty about Boston and the Celtics.
“It went great,” Fairweather told the Globe on Sunday. “The kid is a real gentleman. I think he has a real appreciation with the Celtics’ history and tradition.”
Love, who averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game last season, learned Celtics history at an early age, as one of his favorite tapes growing up was a VHS copy of “Winning Basketball” with Larry Bird and Red Auerbach.
And of his youth, Love once told Sports Illustrated in an interview, “My dad likes to say when other kids were watching Big Bird, I was watching Larry Bird, and he was totally right.”
Fairweather, a former ESPN producer and radio co-host, found Love to be so interested in Celtics history that he gave him a 90-minute DVD that details the team’s illustrious past, a gift Fairweather said Love very much appreciated.
Love showed such reverence for Bird, Fairweather said, that at one point Love pointed out how he believes that Bird’s No. 33 ought to be retired by every team in the NBA. Love also said he planned on talking to fellow UCLA alumnus Bill Walton about what it was like playing for the Celtics.
Fairweather said he told Love that he could be the Celtics’ Tom Brady, a reference to the Patriots’ star quarterback.
“You could be a rock star here,” Fairweather said he told him.
But Fairweather said that if Love made one point clear throughout their lengthy conversation, it was this: “I just want to win,” said Love, a three-time All-Star who has yet to make the playoffs in six years with the Timberwolves.
Love also complimented Celtics All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo. “He just said he’s a really, really good player,” Fairweather said.
Rondo and Love met up Sunday at Fenway Park, where the two watched the Sox win their seventh straight game, beating Tampa Bay, 4-0.
At the game, Love sat next to his agent, Jeff Schwartz, who also represents former Celtics star Paul Pierce.
Later Sunday, Sox slugger David Ortiz tweeted at Love: “Yo @kevinlove, if you need advice on moving from Minnesota to Boston just let me know #CityOfChamps”
Ortiz would know what it’s like to make such a transition, as he spent six seasons with the Minnesota Twins before signing as a free agent with the Red Sox in 2003.
However, Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said the team very much plans to keep Love in Minneapolis.
“The last I knew Kevin was under contract with us, and I expect him to be playing for us next year,” Saunders told reporters in Minneapolis on Sunday. “I don’t really dictate where guys go on vacation or what they do. They can go wherever they want to go.”
With regard to the teams that are interested in Love, Saunders said, “I know there’s a feeding frenzy out there from a lot of teams. Unfortunately, they have no say. I plan on Kevin being here.”
Saunders also said Celtics fans should calm down.
“They’re the same fans who thought they had Tim Duncan,” he joked, a reference to the 1997 NBA Draft lottery, where the Celtics were surprisingly leapfrogged by San Antonio, which landed the top pick and Duncan.
“They still think they got Tim Duncan in the draft. I’m not really sure, but the last I looked he was playing for San Antonio, Old Man Riverwalk.”
Either way, Sunday capped quite a weekend in Boston for Love.
During his trip, he stayed at a luxury hotel on Boylston Street, dined at an upscale restaurant in the Seaport District, grabbed lunch on the patio at a sports bar outside of Fenway Park, and attended a rooftop party at a hotel near Boston Common late Sunday.
Along the way, Love came across several Celtics fans, many of whom snagged photos that were quickly posted online.
Love also met with several prominent Boston sports stars, including members of the Patriots.
To Fairweather, Love’s visit seemed a bit surreal, as it was just a week and a half ago, on the night of the NBA Draft lottery, that local comedian Dave Russo held a promotional event at The Greatest Bar that was dedicated to Love.
It was called a “Love-In,” Fairweather said, and the idea was that Russo would stay in the bar until the Celtics made a deal to land Love. (Obviously, the Celtics didn’t make such a trade, but Russo stayed at the bar for the better part of two days, Fairweather said.)
Now, here was Love, sitting in the same bar, not long after.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Fairweather said.
In the area where the two talked, the walls surrounding them were decorated with banners from championships won by local teams. But there was one bare spot.
And before Love left that night, Fairweather pointed to that spot and told Love that they would fill it with a championship banner that the Celtics won with him.