Germany's national basketball team scored a coup by landing Chris Kaman, a center for the Los Angeles Clippers. The team enters the Olympic qualifying tournament later this month.
Kaman now has a German passport
Kaman received dual citizenship this week, clearing the way for the Michigan native to play for Germany. The 26-year-old basketball player has never lived in Europe, but his great-grandparents were German, according to media reports.
Kaman is one of the NBA's dominant centers. The 2.13 meter (7 foot) center averaged 15.7 points and 12.7 rebounds last season with the Clippers. His scoring potential and height are seen as essential for strengthening the German team, which has not qualified for the Olympics since the 1992 Barcelona games.
Germany 's power duo
Nowitzki wants his team to qualify
Kaman will join NBA star Dirk Nowitzki on Germany's roster. Nowitzki, who became the first European to win the NBA's Most Valuable Player award, plays for the Dallas Mavericks.
"This is great news," Nowitzki said of Kaman joining the team. "We'll be stronger under the baskets with Chris."
"The Olympics are simply the greatest thing there is for any athlete," Nowitzki recently told Reuters news agency. "I already get goose bumps just thinking about what it'd be like walking into the opening ceremony with the Germany team. It'd be the icing on the cake for me.''
Waiting for Kaman
The Clippers have declined to comment on Kaman's Olympic plans.
Germany's coach, Dirk Bauermann, said he wasn't worried about Kaman possibly missing a warm-up game against Canada next week. Bauermann said he hopes that Kaman will make it in time for the Olympic qualifying event in Athens, Greece, which will be held July 14-20.
Kaman started on a five-year, $52-million contract with the Clippers during the 2007-2008 season. Yet he spent much of the season on the bench due to an inflammation in his lower back and a sprained ankle. The center missed 26 of the team's last 43 games.
Still, Bauermann said he thought Kaman would be a valuable addition to the team.
"I spoke with Chris by phone. He definitely wants to play for Germany," Bauermann said. "He is not just a summer player, he wants to be available for us in the upcoming years as well. Of course, that would be huge."