March 2009 STV Hot Seat Chris Kaman Jill Ewert Los Angeles Clippers

What can you find out in seven minutes on the phone with Chris Kaman?
Quite a bit, actually.


[phone rings]
Chris Kaman: Hello?

STV's Jill Ewert: Hey, Chris! It's Jill with FCA. How are you?
CK: Hey! I'm doing good, Jill. How are you?


Chris Kaman #35

Born: April 28, 1982
Height: 7-0
Weight: 265 lbs.
College: Central Michigan
Years Pro: 5

Last Season:
• Averaged 15.7 points, a team-high 12.7 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 1.9 assists
and 37.2 minutes in 56 games played (55 starts).
• Enjoyed a breakout season and best statistical year of his career before
being limited to 56 games due to injuries.
• Finished third in the NBA with 2.77 blocks per game.
JE: I'm great, thanks! I understand that we have about seven minutes to chat.
CK:
[laughs] Well, let's just get through as many questions as we can. I actually have a dentist appointment pretty soon.

JE: Oh, man. You've been hurt* and you have tooth trouble? That is no fun. I'll make this quick. Why don't we start by you telling me how you came to know the Lord?
CK: Sure. My mom and dad are both Christians, so I grew up going to church, and I went to a Christian school. So, it was all just kind of set up for me, which was a total blessing in itself.

JE: Was there ever a moment when your faith became real to you instead of just being your parents' faith or what you'd been taught?
CK: Well, it started off just going to Bible classes and all that, but there was definitely a time when I realized I really wanted to do this. I don't remember the exact moment, but I remember a period when I was probably 14 or 15, and I had to begin making the right decisions. There is a lot of peer pressure at that time in seventh and eighth grade. And I had to begin making the right decisions and just trying to live the right way. There was peer pressure to do some things that I probably shouldn't do, but I just went the right way and chose not to.

JE: With your situation now, is it difficult to be a Christian in an NBA locker room?
CK: You know, you'd think it would be because there are so many different religions and different thoughts and ideas that you come across, but it's probably one of the easier things. Each person has their own views, and you can't get along with them if you're not going to respect their opinions and beliefs.

I think everybody does a good job of doing that — of respecting each other's opinions. I've played with Muslims, I've played with other Christians and even people who are agnostic and atheist, but everybody just respects everybody else. We play together, but we also have respect for each other.

JE: What's one lesson that God has taught you through the sport of basketball?
CK: You know, what you don't realize right away as a player is how many people are watching you. I've matured so much in the last six years, so it's a powerful thing to be in the NBA and be able to deliver a message to kids.

I do a lot of things with kids and basketball camps. And I always tell people that the hardest thing is trying to be a proper witness to people by my actions on the court, because the game is intense and fast-paced, and you're just trying to play and be competitive. At the same time, you don't want to say the wrong things or do the wrong things because there are people watching you.

JE: I read awhile back that you keep a solid group of Christian friends around you. What's the situation there? Is that still true?
CK: Yeah! It's not like an entourage or anything like that. Everyone calls it my entourage. But it's just some buddies. I went to high school with one of the guys who lives with me. Then, another one of them is his brother. Basically I've known them since I was 5 years old. They're both good Christian guys, and they both live at my house.

"...it's a powerful thing to be in the NBA and be able to deliver a message to kids."

Then I have another guy I met in college who was friends with my brother. It seems like I took all my brother's friends, actually. But he was friends with my brother, and he's a good Christian guy.

You know, I just try to put good people around me, and it works well.

JE: Does their presence help you be accountable in your lifestyle?
CK: You know, I'm not trying to sound like an angel here because I'm not perfect, but for so long I've not given in to all these temptations. So, it's gotten so much easier for me, you know what I'm saying? But they're good accountability partners as far as just keeping my head above water and not letting me get a big head. They keep it regular around the house.

I don't ever want to be someone who thinks he's better than anybody else or thinks he needs special treatment. I don't want to be that way. I want to be pleasant with everybody, and I want to be really approachable. And I think these guys help me do that.

JE: I hear that you're a big advocate for hard work. How has working hard paid off in your own life?
CK: For me, I'm a decent athlete, but I'm not one of those guys who's jumping up out of the gym and dunking everywhere. My style of basketball is a little more fundamental. I'm probably more skilled than the average big man. I'm able to use both hands.

A lot of guys in the NBA have these gifts, and it's nothing against them, but they didn't have to work as hard to get what they have. Then there are some guys who have both: they work hard, and they have the athletic skills. But for me, I'm not missing anything, but I'm not as athletic as I wish I was. So I've had to work a lot harder on my game to put myself where I am now.


Chris Kaman had a breakout season with the Clippers in 2007-08.

Growing up, my dad always told me that the harder I worked the more I would achieve, so I just kind of lived my life that way. It puts me in a position to be able to make the most out of what I've got.

JE: How does that concept of hard work relate to your faith in Christ?
CK: Well, the Christian faith doesn't come easy. I think there are times when you don't want to do things like your devotions, or you're tired, or whatever. But you push yourself the same way you do with basketball on and off the court. In the off-season when you're working hard, you're pushing yourself to become better, and I think with Christianity, you never want to be satisfied with where you're at. You always want to have more. And I think that the extra time spent between you and God and reading your Bible and doing your devotions, that's going to help your relationship with Christ even more.

JE: You recently spoke at an FCA event in L.A.
CK: Yeah, at the top of the Staples Center.

JE: That's awesome. Did you guys have a good crowd?
CK: Yeah, we had a great crowd. Probably a couple hundred.

JE: Why is it important for you to speak at FCA events and other events that allow you to share your faith?
CK: Well, that's the funny thing. I'm really reserved and kind of shy, so I don't normally do a lot of speaking events. Until you get to know me, I'm pretty shy, but I'm still approachable. People come up to talk, and I'm totally cool with talking to them, but I'm not really going to give them all my details until I'm comfortable around them.

So, I don't really do that kind of thing that often. But my agent told me that FCA wanted me to speak, and I was like, "Yeah, totally." I just felt that push to speak there. And that's kind of how it is. Every once in a while I get the thought in my head, "Hey, you can help a lot of people by just going and talking to them." And I had a good time. It was a great experience.

JE: Well, that's great! I pray that the Lord brings more opportunities. From what I've been told, it went really well.
CK: Yeah.

JE: Well, thanks so much, Chris. That's all I have for you.
CK: No problem!

JE: Have fun at the dentist.
CK: Right.


*Kaman has battled a strained arch in his left foot throughout the 2008-09 season.

--For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. To subscribe to STV, click here.

Photos courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images.