Chris Kaman On Lakers, Clippers, Kobe

There have been a handful of players in recent seasons to go from one corner of the Staples Center to the other and the latest is center Chris Kaman.  After eight years with the Clippers and stops in New Orleans and Dallas, the veteran is back in Los Angeles, but this time he's in purple and gold.  The 31-year-old sat down with Dave McMenamin of this week to discuss his journey, his experience playing for both L.A. teams, and his unreal draft class.  Here are some of the highlights..

On the differences between the Lakers experience and the Clippers experience:

I would say they [the Clippers] do a decent job of taking care of their players. I went to Dallas, which everybody knows is one of the best, so I can't say the best but they do a good job of taking care of their players. They've come a long ways since when I started and when I ended.

With the Lakers, they do a great job of taking care of their players. It's a first-rate organization. When teams have won like they have — this team, the Celtics, the Mavericks, all the different teams that are successful like that — I think there's something about them. The aura around the whole team and the organization is different. Everything changes. Here, everything is a little bit more professional, I guess I would say is the word I would use. Without being disrespectful to the Clippers, I think this is a little bit more professional of an organization. Now, the Clippers have turned things around and I think with Doc [Rivers] there and the changes in some cast members, I think they're going to be pretty solid as well. 

How would you stack the 2003 draft class against 1984 and 1996?

Those are some good draft classes though, you know? But there's some other guys that people don't even realize [from 2003]. Jarvis Hayes had a decent career. David West was in there. Josh Howard was in there. I was in there. Kirk Hinrich's in there. Nick Collison. Luke Ridnour. There's some guys that people don't realize, and there's some guys in the second round. There's a couple [other] guys — [Marquis] Daniels had a solid first part of his career. Maurice Williams. There's other guys, I can't even think of them all, but if you look at the list it will be surprising to you how many good players that are in that draft class and guys that are still playing in this league and still getting it done.

The [1996] draft class was good because you got to give them credit with Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, there's some other great players with Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Kobe. So, I mean, it's hard to say. But, if you look at it, we've got LeBron who's won the MVP multiple times, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron and the Miami Heat won rings, two of them. Kobe's got five [rings], Ray Allen's got a few. I don't know. It's tough. That's a tough call. I think overall dominance, we got to wait and see what happens with LeBron and Wade and Bosh down there in Miami. If they get another ring this year, then what does that say? Where does that put them? Where does that put LeBron? I don't know.

On Kobe Bryant:

I always hated him. When you play against a guy like him, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, you don't like them because they're so competitive. I respect that, but I don't like playing against them. But when you're on their team, it's a whole different story. You love the people. They're good guys. Kobe, he's just been working hard trying to get himself ready. He comes to practice and he works his butt off. I respect that as well. I'm excited for him to play. I'm hoping sooner than later.

When do you expect to find out if you'll be starting or coming off the bench?

I don't know. That's a good question too because I'm sure there's some games where you play teams that have bigger lineups. Some teams run two big guys. Some teams run a big guy and a small guy, like if you go with the Knicks, they got [Tyson] Chandler and then they usually got Melo at the four, so obviously that's not a good game for me to be in the starting lineup unless they're willing to match up, or whatever. I think coach, he's going to have a make a decision on the different games and different situations. I think there's some games that I'll benefit the team starting. But, I don't know what's going to happen. I could come off the bench or I could start. I've done both last year in Dallas.

How would you rate this current Lakers team?

It's hard to tell right now, but I think we're going to be better than people think. I think we have a better team mentality than they had last year. I think the chemistry is going to better. I think guys really, truly want to be playing with each other and be in the same locker room with each other. It's not like, 'When can I get out of here?' I think that's going to help and I think we got a good, early start having all the guys here this summer for the most part. All that plays into it. And then obviously, when we get Kobe back, that's going to help us tenfold.


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