Chris Kaman is playing for the German national team for the second summer in his career at the 2011 EuroBasket, but the Los Angeles Clippers center is still getting used to the more physical and team-orientated European game and fans being closer and more involved in the action.
“It’s a little more physical and the game is played a little more slower. And the court is a little bit smaller. So you don’t have as much room,” said Kaman at the EuroBasket warm-up tournament Supercup in Bamberg, Germany.
Kaman said the European game is more fundamental and has less one-on-one isolation than the NBA.
“Here everybody is ready to give the ball up for their teammates to make shots. Everybody is playing together on a string. I think it’s a bit slower but it’s a bit more fundamental. It’s a bit more solid at the core of basketball. It’s more basketball,” explained Kaman.
The camaraderie of Euro ball reminds 29-year-old Grand Rapids, Michigan native, who played for Germany at the 2008 pre-Olympic tournament and the Beijing Games, of his times back in college at Central Michigan University.
“It’s more of a team thing and I like the concept a lot,” he said.
“Together as a team you do stuff, you eat all our meals together, we room together. To come here it’s refreshing. It’s a lot different than what I’m used to for the last eight years in the NBA. So I enjoy it.”
German national team coach Dirk Bauermann recalled Kaman’s first summer three years ago and how he struggled to cope with the physicality of the game in Europe.
“I remember when we played Croatia in the pre-Olympics (Kaman) told me “Next year I am going to bring my American football gear. It’s a skills game. But they let you get away with murder in the lane. What is that?’”
Bauermann said Kaman complained back then that the advantage he has skills wise was being taken away with the physicality.
“That’s just not right,” Kaman told Bauermann.
But the German boss told the 7-footer that he just has to get used to it and play the same way on the defensive end – something Bauermann believes Kaman has learned to do more and more.
Kaman said another big difference between the European and the NBA is the proximity of the fans in the arenas.
“It is a very close atmosphere and everyone is on top of you, which is an awesome experience,” said Kaman at Bamberg’s Stechert Arena, which holds about 7,000 spectators in a sardine can-like atmosphere.
“Obviously it’s a very different experience from what I am used to in the NBA. In the NBA, the floor is in the middle and everybody is far back and way off and it’s more of like a spectator and you’re just sitting back and watching like at a movie.
“Here it’s like everyone is involved and into the game. I find it very exciting and it helps the team to keep the pace and keep the energy going. The fans are an important part of the game.”
Kaman hopes to experience a bit more of an NBA-like feeling next summer at the London Olympics, which will be played at the O2 arena in the British capital. Until then he will have to enjoy the exciting atmosphere of European ball.