Chris Kaman knows the Clippers. No, he really knows the Clippers.
He spent eight seasons with them, an eternity to be sure, and was an All-Star in 2010 before they traded him in the Chris Paul deal a year later, which irks him to this day.
The Clippers dominated the Lakers last season, sweeping all four games by an average of 13.3 points, and became the buzz of the town by hiring Coach Doc Rivers during the off-season.
It’s a Clippers town now? Not according to Kaman, the witty, loquacious center who signed a one-year deal with the Lakers in July. The teams play each other in the season opener Tuesday, a designated Lakers home game.
“I respect what they’re doing and what they’ve done, but still, they’re nothing like the Lakers,” Kaman said Monday. “You look up here at all the championships. They’re never going to have that. It’s never going to happen. I don’t see it.
“There’s just something about the Lakers. The history behind everything. It just makes it that much sweeter.”
Kaman was plenty complimentary of the Clippers, though.
“Before, the owner, Donald Sterling, didn’t care about winning,” Kaman said. “He cared about sharing that luxury money. I think it was all about save as much money as I can, get as much highlight players and still people will come watch. That’s what he did for a long time.”
What’s changed? The Paul trade, the drafting of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, and the desire to pay top dollar to extend their contracts.
“I don’t know if he’s getting older, I don’t want to say that out of respect, but I think he is getting older and he wants to see the fruits of his labor and he’s willing to spend some more money,” Kaman said. “The year he made that [Playa Vista] practice facility, everybody knew he was kind of turning over a new leaf and kind of going a different direction. They’ve got some great players in there now and they’re paying their players and taking good care of everybody.
“It’s changed a lot over the last 10 years that I’ve been in the league. We practiced at a community college [L.A. Southwest College] in the ‘hood. It’s come a long ways.”