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A Jokester Off Court, Kaman Makes Early Impact
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
January 6, 2012


Those whove spent time around the trio that came to New Orleans from Los Angeles in a Dec. 14 trade often comment that Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu seem to share similar, quiet personalities away from the court. Chris Kaman? Not so much.

Im a loudmouth, I guess, Kaman describes of himself. I just try to keep everything light. When its time to be professional on the court, thats one thing. But off the court and in the locker room, I want to have a good time. I was told by one of my coaches when I was young, if youre not having fun, dont play this game. So I always like to have fun and joke around with the guys. I told (new Hornets teammates) I joke around a lot, so if theres something you dont like, just let me know and I wont joke with you. But Im a jokester.

While Kamans humor and unique outlook are duly noted by teammates a smiling Gordon calls Kaman one of the craziest people I know the Hornets didnt acquire the 7-foot center merely to provide levity in the locker room. Prior to an injury-riddled 2010-11 season, Kaman enjoyed the finest individual year of his career in 2009-10, capped by an appearance in the 10 NBA All-Star Game. The honor was a significant sign of respect for the contributions of a veteran big man whose work has often gone unnoticed on sub-.500 Clippers squads. Over Kamans eight years in the City of Angels, the Clippers reached the playoffs only once, in 2006.

Im ready to try to play again, said Kaman, who made just 32 appearances during a frustrating 2010-11 season. I didnt get a lot of games in last year because I was injured so much. I want to come out and prove that I can still play the game. I know I can, I just have to have the opportunity. I didnt have that opportunity very much last year, due to being hurt. Now Im here ready to roll.

The sixth overall pick in the historic 2003 NBA Draft, Kaman has carved out a solid nine-year career partly on the strength of a few distinctive on-court traits. For one, he is comfortable playing traditional, low-post offense with his back to the basket. For another, he is virtually ambidextrous around the rim, a natural right-hander who is so skilled with his weak hand that fans sometimes mistakenly believe hes a southpaw.

After spending his entire career with one NBA team, the mid-December trade came as a shock to the 29-year-old, who moved to the Crescent City about a week before the regular season began. Still, the Central Michigan product felt a sense of relief when the deal was completed hed grown weary of hearing his name in trade rumors.

I wasnt mad about it, because I understand that its a business, Kaman said of professional basketball. (The Clippers) wanted to get Chris Paul. The people here (in the Hornets organization) all respected his wishes of trying to move him (to another team). He was very professional about it. Youve got to respect that.

I tried to do the same thing, to be professional and do my job. Its almost like a relief, because I was just tired of hearing about it. I was in limbo. I didnt know what was going to happen. But I always try to make the best out of each situation. I cant reverse what happened. I cant change the decision (the Clippers) made. Im here. They are paying me a lot of money and I always have to do my job professionally, the best that I can. If that involves getting traded, then thats what you have to accept.

Kaman points out that many of his close friends are former teammates who currently play for the Clippers, such as high-flying forward Blake Griffin and up-and-coming DeAndre Jordan, a player Kaman vied with for playing time at center last season. He wishes his former team well this season, while believing that he and his new teammates also have something to prove in 2011-12.

Obviously the Clippers were able to get Chris Paul, and thats great for them, Kaman said of the current Clippers. I think theyre going to have a great team, and Im happy for Blake and DeAndre, Mo (Williams), Ryan (Gomes) and Randy (Foye), the guys I knew well.

But I think we have a great team here. But its all about chemistry whether you fit together or dont fit together. You have to build that chemistry up. At the same time, you got three solid players here (in the trade). I think people are going to be surprised.


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