13-year NBA veteran center and former LA Clipper Joakim Noah appeared on the “Knuckleheads” podcast earlier this week, revealing that he got his “welcome to the NBA” moment from an unlikely opponent in a Clippers uniform.
“It was a guy I hadn’t even heard of before,” Noah recalled to hosts Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson. “We played the Clippers, and I’ve got to guard Chris Kaman. I’m like ‘man, I don’t even know who Chris Kaman is.’”
Noah might not have known who Kaman was, but The Caveman was a beast of a center in 2007-08, Noah’s rookie season. Kaman put up averages of 15.7 points and 12.7 rebounds as LA’s starting center, and Noah remembers him having every post move in the book.
“Left, right, on the block. Man, it was crazy,” Noah laughed. “He was talking shi*t, too.”
The game Noah is referring to took place on Nov. 17, 2007. Kaman dropped 21 points and eight rebounds, but the Clippers fell to the Chicago Bulls 92-73 (it was a dark time). Noah did nothing but commit a foul in his two minutes and 27 seconds of playing time.
Noah didn’t have to tell Richardson about Kaman’s dominance, as the two were teammates during Kaman’s rookie year with the Clippers.
Noah, who would go on to win Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, explained that the talent at the center position when he entered the league forced him to become a better defender. He remembers having to deal with a tough matchup on a nightly basis.
“Tomorrow, Yao Ming,” he said. “The night after that, Shaq. This sh*t doesn’t stop.”
Kaman would go on to make an All-Star team in 2010, averaging a career-high 18.5 points. Perhaps Noah had trouble remembering who Kaman was because he happened to be a part of the 2003 draft class, which included a few slightly more notable names like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony. Even still, Kaman is remembered fondly among Clipper fans.