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Injury isn’t only thing that has hurt Brand

Elton Brand and I were arguing Tuesday.

Brand played Chris Kaman one-on-one a few weeks ago, lost, but just won’t accept the fact he got whooped by the Clippers’ big stiff.

“We were playing the best of five, I had won the first two and was driving for the winning score in the third game, but they didn’t call the foul and he came back to win that one,” Brand said. “But I was up 4-0 in the next game and driving to the hoop, when bam, like the sound of a drum,” his Achilles’ tendon ruptured.

That makes it pretty simple -- Kaman won because they had to cart off Brand. Call it a forfeit, a TKO, a complete collapse -- no matter, Kaman won.

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“No way,” Brand still insisted, talking by phone from across the country after having almost a dozen staples removed from his foot and now hopping up and down on a new cast at the mention of Kaman’s convincing win. “It’s a game to be continued.”

You live every day with the knowledge that Kaman got the best of you, and there’s probably no better motivation for an NBA player to recover as quickly as possible.

“I’ll be back this season -- for sure,” Brand said. “I’ve got a cast on now for the next three weeks, then I’ll be in a walking boot for four to eight weeks before I begin rehabbing. I’m not putting a deadline on it -- but I’ll be back this season.”

In the meantime, Kaman will carry the Clippers, and try to continue his domination over the rest of the NBA.

IT’S BEEN two weeks since Brand’s surgery in Wilmington, Del. -- 11 days since his picture appeared atop a koolse.com blog trying to set the record straight about his injury, while also expressing displeasure with the Clippers.

“It was not a sudden occurrence as some bloggers wrote,” Brand’s blog noted, while indicating he had been initially hurt in Toronto during the season and had taken a cortisone shot so he could still help the playoff-seeking Clippers.

“One could imagine my disbelief when asked if my (Achilles’) injury was due to performance-enhancing drugs by Clipper brass,” Brand wrote. “I know we live in that era, but I hold the game of basketball in high esteem, and conduct myself with integrity. I am not trying to go all Kobe on the staff, but to be asked that question when all facts were (known)…was very disappointing to say the least.”

You could understand someone asking Gary Matthews such a question, but the Clippers irritating their very own. Very odd.

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A Clippers spokesman said the team has no such concerns about Brand, and it was just a “misunderstanding.”

Brand wouldn’t say who challenged him, and said, “I’m really not mad,” but anyone who knows Brand and how important he values doing the right thing will understand why such a “misunderstanding” would wound him so.

“When people use performance-enhancing drugs it decreases the integrity of the tendons,” Brand said. “But what we’re talking about here is my integrity.”

Brand said he’s also troubled by different versions of his blog that have appeared on the Internet, in some cases misrepresenting how he really feels.

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“I wouldn’t be surprised to see something out there with curse words in it,” he said. “It’s so easy to cut and paste things and make it appear differently. I’d like to let everyone know how I really feel, so when I get back to town next week, I’ll come into the studio, do the radio show and we’ll talk about all this.”

If that means canceling Mark Gubicza’s weekly visit, so be it.

BASED ON Page 2 experiences, Brand is the most consistently cooperative athlete in town, always available to take the tough question in depressing times, which are going to come with regularity if you play for the Clippers, and more than willing to laugh at himself.

Someone like Brand gets hurt, it’s not only disappointing because the Clippers won’t be as competitive, but it’s a real bummer because it’s happened to such a good guy.

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He had already been pushing himself hard this off-season. He knew the movie he had produced, the highly regarded “Rescue Dawn,” was coming out, so he worried fans might not understand the movie-making process, and “think I spent all summer carrying a camera around instead of working to get better.”

He was going to leave no doubts about his commitment to the Clippers. He took himself out of USA Basketball consideration because of the calf muscle that he had injured in Toronto, which had put stress on his Achilles’ tendon.

Last summer had been an exhausting experience, he had gotten married, and I’ll let you throw in your own wisecrack here. He had also played overseas for USA Basketball, only to return and then go back to Russia with the Clippers.

“I had a taste of the playoffs in my so-called breakout year two seasons ago, and now I wanted more,” he said. “When I got hurt, my Uncle Rob, who is a tough guy, pulled over to the side of the road and cried. He knew the hard work that had already been put in.

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“It was disheartening, all right, and kind of surreal. I was leaving my house to go to Delaware for the surgery and I looked at my high tops and wondered if I should pack them for a workout.”

Now some folks are wondering if they should buy Clipper tickets.

“I guarantee you it won’t be like the Grizzlies (who lost Pau Gasol and then went into the dumper),” Brand said. “The guys have already called and said they’ll keep it going until I get back.

“Take my brother Kaman,” Brand added, “he’s been in the gym working hard every day and looking great,” but then that’s what you’d expect him to say after getting his butt kicked by the big lug.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.


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