Germany’s luck runs out when Americans show up
BEIJING -- Auf Wiedersehen.
So much for the preliminaries, not to mention Chris Kaman’s Excellent Adventure.
Closing out pool play undefeated, untied and unchallenged, the U.S. flattened Germany, 106-57, Monday night, advancing to the medal round and ending the Germans’ Olympics.
The irrepressible Kaman, the Clippers’ gift to Germany, didn’t start, played 17 minutes and scored six points, so if anyone still thinks he’s a traitor, at least he won’t go down with Benedict Arnold.
In another positive note for the Clippers, Kaman held his hand over his heart during “The Star-Spangled Banner” and has no plans to emigrate.
“It wasn’t as weird as I thought,” Kaman said. “I just put my hand over my heart and stood there leaning like I normally do.
“I never sing it anyway. It was kind of regular for me.”
On the irregular side, there was the fact he was halfway around the world, playing against his country and about to get the stuffing beaten out of him.
“No one’s going to beat them,” Kaman said of his countrymen -- well, the American ones. “It’s not going to happen. . . .
“As bad as it sounds, I think they can take whoever they want lightly and no one’s going to beat them. You saw them shooting half-court shots before the game.
“They’re probably the second-best team the United States has ever had, third-best. . . .
“The crazy thing is, Kobe [Bryant] isn’t scoring a lot of points. No one is. They’re doing it together. You don’t know -- who do you stop? Who do you double?
“No one’s going to beat them. They’re going to win a gold medal and I’m happy for them. Everyone’s playing for second place.”
The Germans finished 1-4, although they’re still muttering about the charging call on Dirk Nowitzki at the end of their 59-55 loss to China that sent the host country into the medal round.
With the Germans already eliminated, Coach Dirk Bauermann started veteran Patrick Femerling in Kaman’s place, although it wasn’t to save Kaman any embarrassment.
“That guy, Patrick Femerling, our center, he’s going to retire this year,” Kaman said. “He’s already played the most in Deutschland basketball history. He’s had 210 games in international play for Germany.
“And so I was like, the coach talked to me and he wanted to start him and I said, ‘That’s cool, man, no problem.’
“I mean, we didn’t plan on winning this game. We wanted to try, but we didn’t plan on winning. You’re not looking forward to the U.S. game as a win.
“You’re hoping you win if you get lucky.”
The Germans weren’t that lucky Monday night. Their bad luck started when the U.S. bus arrived and 12 players got off.
After that, it looked more like one of those fantasy camps where businessmen pay to play against NBA stars.
Any thought the U.S., which had been lethargic before dispatching supposed contenders Greece and Spain, wouldn’t be up for this game was dispelled quickly.
The U.S. scored three seconds into the game, or almost as fast as humanly possible with Dwight Howard winning the opening tip, getting it to Jason Kidd, who threw the ball ahead to Carmelo Anthony, who laid it in.
The U.S. led by 18 in the first quarter, 30 in the second and 49 at the end.
Howard led the team with 22 points and LeBron James had 16.
As for Kaman, he’s headed home -- to Los Angeles -- but he said it was great.
“The opening ceremony was the best for me,” he said. “It was unbelievable in that stadium. Whether you’re from the U.S., Germany, wherever you’re from, just all those people being in one place, it was awesome.”
He got to see the events he likes that don’t get much airtime in the U.S., such as shooting and archery. He was also surprised to learn badminton was an Olympic sport.
And he didn’t get hurt. For the Clippers as well as their wandering center, all’s well that ends well.