The story of Chris Kaman possibly playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki for the German National Team has been floating around for awhile. Well, the German website RP-online (hat tip Ball in Europe via TrueHoop), seems to think it's getting closer.
The Babel Fish translation is pretty incomprehensible:
Kaman of Los Angeles the Clippers mentioned to want to play gladly in the National Union of Civil Servants selection. The 25 years German ancestors and already contact took up old and 2.13 m large centers to the German basketball federation (National Union of Civil Servants). There all possibilities for an employment are examined at present.
Kaman, which grew up in Michigan, plays its fourth season in the NBA. In current the play time 16 points and 13.1 Rebounds stand at present in the statistics for it on average.
I can do better than that. Now, my college German, rusted over with over 20 years of disuse, is not infallible by any means, but here goes:
Kaman, of the Los Angeles Clippers, had let it be known that he would like to play for the German team. The 25 year old 7'0" center has German ancestors and has already made contact with the German Basketball Federation. Therefore there is every possibility that a roster spot will be looked at.
Kaman, who grew up in Michigan, is playing his fourth [sic] season in the NBA. In the current season he is averaging 16 points and 13.1 rebounds per game.
Let's just state up front that I don't see anything in this item that seems definitive. There's nothing from Kaman or from the DBB stating directly that he's playing for the team. So it seems to me that this is far from a done deal. Anyone out there more fluent in German care to give it a go?
I know there are some who think this is a really bad idea. In the wake of Elton Brand's supposedly tired legs after the World Championships, or more frighteningly the major injuries sustained by Pau Gasol and Jorge Garbajosa while playing for Spain, imagine if Kaman were hurt playing for the Fatherland! It's hard to justify that it's his patriotic duty to play for Germany, or that he always dreamed of hearing 'Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles' while standing on the Olympic podium with the Red, Yellow and Black flag behind him. So it's silly, I'll grant you that.
But it's far from unprecedented. The starting point guard for Russia in the last European Championship, who will no doubt be representing the erstwhile commies in Beijing as well, was born in Pittsburgh and played at Bucknell. And who can forget that legendary American Olympian, Hakeem Olajuwon, born in Lagos, Nigeria? Sure, those players had a more direct connection to their adopted countries than Kaman does via his grandparents, but the simple fact is that if the National Federation in question says you can play, you can play.
The US Soccer Federation has used this trick for years, recruiting 90's defensive stalwarts Thomas Dooley and David Regis, the European progeny of US servicemen stationed overseas, to play in the World Cup. And in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the Greek baseball team was made up almost entirely of American players of Greek descent. Actually, I think if you had ever eaten a gyro or seen 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' you got a passport and a uniform.
So while it certainly seems to devalue the idea of a national team, it didn't start with Chris Kaman, nor will it end there. Rumor has it the Poles are checking on Dan Dickau's heritage as well.
There is one potential downside for Kaman - if he plays for Germany, he'll never be able to compete internationally for the US. While that may not seem like a major issue right now, you'd actually be hard-pressed to find many better American true centers beyond Dwight Howard and Greg Oden. I mean, I like Tyson Chandler fine, but if he's a defensive specialist, and Kaman is a better rebounder and a better shot-blocker this season, than why wouldn't the US want Kaman's offensive game on the team? Besides, Howard might get tired of international competition (no one seems to play in too many of them). The current coaching staff wouldn't use Kaman's style of play well - but that's not to say that some future coach wouldn't be interested. If I were part of USA basketball, I'd be talking to the guy - the international competition has caught up already, even without defections.
But if he wants to play for Germany, I don't have a problem with it. I've said before that I don't buy the fear of injury argument, nor the fatigue argument. Basketball is basketball, and ball players are going to play in the off-season. And you can't choose the time and place of a major injury, as Elton Brand found out this summer. I always felt that if Michael Olowokandi just liked basketball enough to actually play some in the summer he would have become a much better player. But he was never much interested in basketball, he never played in the off-season, and it showed. Why would ClipsNation be happy for Kaman to play in the Summer League in Las Vegas, but afraid to have him play for Germany this summer? It doesn't really make sense. MDsr has apparently given Kaman his blessing to pursue his German Geld Medal dream, on the basis that the level of competition will be good experience.
If he does play, he'll join the Germans in the final Olympic Qualifying Tournament taking place in Athens July 14-20. And given that Germany has continually done well at the international level, with Dirk essentially all alone, one would expect that the Germans would have a very good chance of being one of the three teams out of twelve that will advance to Beijing in September. Let's face it, Kaman is a pretty significant upgrade over Patrick Femerling.
From a strictly selfish standpoint, I'd love to see it happen. The more top level competition, the more pressure Chris Kaman faces, the better as far as I'm concerned. Plus, it would give me one more thing to follow during the very dead time between the start of free agency and the start of training camp. Dwight Howard, Yao Ming, Luis Scola, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bogut and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are just some of the post players he might be battling this summer. It can only help his game.