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Chris Kaman on Kobe Bryant: ‘I always hated him’

Oct 4, 2013, 11:05 AM EST

Los Angeles Lakers Bryant shoots over Dallas Mavericks Kaman during their NBA game in Dallas

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.

Kaman in a Q&A with Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

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.

  1. greej1938l - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    You act like you’ve been Kobe’s teammate Dan haha

  2. kb2408 - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Bird wasn’t popular with some of his teammates, Isiah and MJ were known to have gotten into fist fights with teammates. Kobe is a throwback. All the players I mentioned have one big thing in common, they’re winners. And, speaking of Dwight, he may not be considered a bad teammate in the way most people think Kobe is but his Magic teammates still didn’t particularly speak highly of him after he was gone. I’d take a winning a-hole over a losing “good guy” any day.

    • reastnt - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:58 AM

      All good points, but it’s possible to be both a winner, a good teammate, and a mature person. Unfortunately, the “he’s so competitive he’ll whip a ten year old in checkers” mentality became de rigueur with MJ, and now everyone thinks that’s the right way to be competitive and a winner. Hats off to those rare players who, despite growing up in the elite athlete bubble, remain grounded and find the right balance. You don’t have to be a jerk to be a winner.

      • sellahh - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        I know what you’re getting into, but I disagree. Tim Duncan is an exception, not a rule. You don’t win in business without being coldblooded. Why would sports be any different?

      • airjunior23 - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:12 PM

        Well lebron suffered a lot because he wouldnt be a jerk to an extent. Kobe and MJ could only hope that guys put in the work they did and since they most likely didnt, it’s only natural for them to get pissed when guys dont play well. Its not cool to be a jerk, but at the same time its a lose lose situation. If you arent hard on your teammates, they dont play up to their own potential, if you are a jerk people dont ask you to hang out after the game…..at least when the smoke clears you have a title or something other than personal accolades.

        But they say MJ was the ultimate teammate, he was a jerk when it came to losing, like any competitor. Kobe’s problem is that he loves winning more than he hates losing… just an opinion.

        I personally dont like the buddy system in the nba right now….but the theme is being a Ahole is lame. so points taken

      • sellahh - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:25 PM

        I knew somebody would mention LeBron… Hell, i even forgot about him myself. Just… he’s so much better than everyone else at the moment that I don’t think it matters if he’s nice or not. And I’m saying this as a Kobe fanboy…

      • borderline1988 - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:37 PM

        I know plenty of businessmen who are very honourable and nice, even in business. They just make their decisions in a cold-blooded way, but the way they deal with people is the same.

        Kobe is stand-off-ish. He’d rather blame a teammate than himself. He’s the guy taking the glory when the Lakers win, but deferring blame when they lose.

        He’s really hard on teammates, which is fine in certain cases, but I ask you this: who’s allowed to be hard on him? Nobody. If a Lakers coach or player says in public that Kobe needs to be better or practice harder (or whatever), Kobe just gets pissed.

        That’s why I don’t get the hating Lebron thing. Sure, Lebron can be quite stupid socially – the guy just doesn’t know how to present his image the way he wants to, and always ends up looking immature or diva-ish.
        But at least he’s not an a-hole. And he does mean well for other people at the end of the day. Kobe doesn’t give a s**** about anyone but himself.

      • mogogo1 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:53 PM

        The thing about MJ, though, was even as he was treating guys badly during practices, they still wanted to hang around him. Most of the team played cards with him, he’s never lacked for golfing partners, etc. The difference with Kobe is there just has never seemed to be the bonding part with his teammates. All this many years in, it’s still hard to find guys (opponents or teammates) who are really tight with Kobe. And while Jordan never let any negativity spill off the practice floor into the press, Kobe has had that happen numerous times.

      • antistratfordian - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:38 PM

        A pet peeve of mine is when people allow Kobe to get away with being a overbearing, rude, obnoxious jerk because he’s “soooo competitive.”

        “I tried to at least have a conversation with Kobe Bryant — he is my teammate, he is a co-worker of mine, I see his face every day I go in to work — and I tried to talk with him about football. He tells me I can’t talk to him. He tells me I need more accolades under my belt before I come talk to him. He was dead serious.

        You can’t knock the man’s legacy, but what I don’t like about him is the man that he is. His personality. How he treats people.” -William Henry Parker

        You can be extraordinarily competitive and not have narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic rage. These are separate conditions.

        But most of Kobe’s ill behavior is driven by advanced narcissism, not competitiveness.

  3. sellahh - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    So, Caveman is more sincere about Kobe, while still being his teammate, than Dwight ever was and probably will ever be. Good job DH12.

    • chargerdillon - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      That right there is spot on. You know damn well there’s lots of thing Dwight could say, but he lets his hanger-on’ers leak it to the media rather than being a man and owning it.

      People wonder why the Dwight-mare went on for as long as he did, it’s because he’s a damn coward who doesn’t own what he wants and doesn’t take responsibility.

      If you paid attention last year during the Lakers-drama one constant was being said about Dwight from EVERY SOURCE. Dwight did not want to play the pick and roll game that he was brought into play. Everybody just put it on the backburner that a big problem with Dwight was Dwight playing with his team. The Lakers did EVERYTHING to cover this up to save good face with Dwight to keep him.

      The same problems Dwight had with the Lakers he will surely have with the Rockets.

      It’s this simple, Dwight Howard is a big-man Center on the court, and people expect him to play that way…….everybody with the exception of Dwight Howard.

      • scalfor3 - Oct 4, 2013 at 5:16 PM

        I still don’t get why the best pick and roll big in the game was upset about his team wanting to run more pick and rolls. Someone needs to explain this to me.

  4. cruzan80 - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    Kobe is a jerk.

    • asimonetti88 - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      Maybe on the basketball court, but he’s well known in the area as being involved in his daughters’ education and school, he’s involved in the community in areas like homelessness, and he willingly makes time with fans who stop him in public. If he’s a jerk on the basketball court, but wins lots of games and makes a positive impact in his community, I think he’s doing well.

      His wife is definitely a jerk though.

  5. majorhavoc83 - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Not sure I agree with the sentiment of disliking, “…how buddy-buddy NBA players now are with their opponents”. Here’s my rationale:

    1. As mentioned before, coming up at the Elite AAU levels means players may see each other often, so you form casual “friendships” with people. Keep in mind, playing anything at the elite levels puts you in a very small “fraternity”. My son plays AAU ball, and he’s become friendly with a number of players. He’ll tell me that off the court, it’s one thing, but one the court, there’s no fooling around. He’s dead serious when he’s on the court and he actually enjoys facing off against his friends. They all do. They all love proving who is the better player and then talk smack about it afterward.

    2. The business of the NBA sets up numerous player trades/movements. A lot of these guys that play against each other have tons of opportunity to end up as team mates. You don’t want to create too many enemies out there.

    3. Elite NBA players often have opportunities to play on the US Olympic/National team. Again, adversarial players often get thrown together. The game is predicated on team work, so things need to work smoothly on the court.

    4. The NBA, and much more importantly, it’s big corporate sponsors, are well served by having players generally get along. At the end of the day, isn’t it really all about the Benjamins?

    Just to restate this one last time: professional athletes are very small fraternities. I think they’ve become savvy enough to understand the business of the game, and the big money in sports has transformed how they approach the game. This isn’t just in basketball. Even Yankees/Red Sox has changed. Or look at how buddy-buddy NFL players have become before or after a game. Pro athletes have come to recognize that they’re also in the entertainment business and they’re responding accordingly.

    • mogogo1 - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      Also, the total opposite of opponents being buddies isn’t always all that great, either. Guys were dead to Bill Laimbeer if they got traded or signed elsewhere. That caused animosity with a number of his old teammates. In a sport where guys switch teams constantly, frequently without them having any say in the matter, that attitude made Laimbeer look like a total jerk.

  6. sellahh - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    I know this will probably get quite a few negative responses and deservedly so.
    The only reason I hate LeBron so much is the fact that I’ve realised how great he can possibly be. How he can surpass the player I like the most. That’s maybe not the only (decision? who cares), but far and away the biggest reason why I don’t like him so much. He’s so good that rooting agaisnt him is actually more fun. I grew up watching Kobe, saw him win 3 titles. Then when I grew up, Kobe actually gets two more rings. Well, when there’s a player like LeBron on the horizon, you know he’s threatening the GOAT. He’s very enjoyable to watch and I’d still rather root for Celtics than LeBron.

  7. henock1 - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    What kind if team mate are you if you don’t hold people accountable for their performance? Same with friendship. You’re more of a jerk if you observe people’s inconsistencies or flaws and do nothing to help them.

    Some people need to be humbled to change their ways. Everyone is responsible for their own feelings , why would Kobe care how someone else feels about who he is or how he goes about things? He’s trying to win and if you are too, own up to it, step your game up and stop whining about it!!

  8. antistratfordian - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    “Plenty of people, myself included, don’t like how buddy-buddy NBA players now are with their opponents.”

    I don’t recall anyone making a deal out of this when Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley would go golfing during the 1993 finals. When’s the last time you’ve seen opposing stars be buddy-buddy like that during the finals? Now, Jordan would later joke about that and say that he actually “hated” Barkley and that he was just using him – but we know they were good friends and they both loved golf, so they probably couldn’t help it.

    People accused LeBron of trying to manipulate Durant in a similar way – a keep your friends close and your enemies closer thing – but, like MJ and Barkley, they really are friends. But at least KD and LBJ were all business during the finals.

  9. freddysanford - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    And I care about Chris Kaman why?

    • eureca323 - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      I don’t know. Ask yourself why you clicked a link about Chris Kaman.

  10. unfly - Oct 4, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    I think the friendliness between players today is overblown. Sure there isn’t as much pure vitriol as there once was but plenty of guys don’t get along at all. Just look at:

    Joakim Noah – LeBron James
    Zach Randolph – Blake Griffin
    Dwyane Wade – Lance Stephenson
    KG – Everyone
    Pacers – Bulls (two teams that don’t like each other)

    That’s off the top of my head, but there’s more legit NBA beefs out there.

    • adamsjohn714 - Oct 5, 2013 at 1:37 AM

      Hibbert-Curry for sure.

    • detroitbasketballfan - Oct 5, 2013 at 11:22 AM

      Lebron james vs ( Rondo Pierce and garnett )

  11. teabone13 - Oct 4, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    most people who have the drive to literally be the best of the best have narcissistic tendencies. go look at all the richest people in the world list… it’s a very common trait. not saying it’s bad or good.. but just saying it’s more common than you think.

  12. abchome - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    Kobe Bryant on Chris Kaman: ‘Who? He’s on my team?’

  13. GaslampGoliath - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:04 AM

    aka The Caveman

  14. tonedeaf - Oct 5, 2013 at 5:38 AM

    kaman is a solid veteran 5 who’s paid his dues before the clippers became the clippers – i’m glad kupcheck brought him back to LA.

  15. urodaddy07 - Oct 5, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    You know a lot of people seem make assumptions about Kobe’s relationship to his teammates. I think Kobe can be an ass but I haven’t heard his teammates past or present say negative things about him, except for DH. And I’m not saying he’s a good teammate, I’m just saying I wouldn’t assume like a lot of you guys. As far as LBJ goes I also wouldn’t assume he’s a good guy just because he gets along with his teammates. The way he handled his exit from Cleveland was a pretty crappy, and I know people make mistakes, but since I don’t know him personally I can only judge what I see, and that was a pretty crappy way to treat your teammates.

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