Plenty of people, myself included, don’t like how buddy-buddy NBA players now are with their opponents. I don’t have a good solution, because the inter-team friendships are an organic result of several factors including:
1. Elite players knowing each other since a young age, as the high-end AAU basketball scene has become increasingly national.
2. Players have high-paying and guaranteed contracts that ensure all of them are getting rich.
But this kinship limits how badly players want to beat their opponent, at least during the regular season. I miss the good, hard-fought, competitive games between two teams that really don’t like each other – even if I don’t think there’s a good solution to bring those games back.
I just wish there was some magical way for it to happen. Chris Kaman is the sort of throwback I long for.
Obviously you were in the same city as Kobe for a long time, but seeing him up close, being a teammate, how would you describe that experience so far?
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.
I’ve got news for you, Chris: You’re going to hate Kobe at times even when he’s your teammate.
That’s just how Kobe is. He doesn’t – probably, can’t – turn off his competitiveness, and occasionally, that means he grates on teammates (as Dwight Howard can attest). Kaman seems like the type of player who recognizes Kobe’s occasional bluntness comes from a desire to win, so Kaman should take it in stride.
Playing with Kobe probably beats playing against him, but I’d love to hear Kaman’s honest opinion a year from now.