DALLAS -– When Chris Kaman went down last Saturday with a sprained lower back before the Dallas Mavericks could even complete their first training camp practice, he could almost hear the whispers.
After all, Kaman is entering his 10th NBA season. And his rookie campaign -- the 2003-'04 season -- is the only time when he’s played in every game.
In other words, for one reason or another, Kaman has been a regular in NBA training rooms. Injuries and Kaman, it seems, go hand-in-hand.
That’s why a few eyebrows were raised when Kaman failed to make it through the Mavs’ first practice unscathed.
“That’s what’s frustrating the most,’’ Kaman said Monday at American Airlines Center. “I’ve been here since Aug. 15-16 and just trying to get myself in the position to be ready with the team and kind of build the chemistry and all that.
“So I’m in pretty good shape – for the seasons before and in the past. I’m feeling really comfortable and I’m ready to go, and then the first day of camp you get hurt. It happens and it’s something that I can’t control.’’
Kaman is listed as day-to-day, and he and the Mavs are adamant that the injury isn’t anything serious.
“Let s not get into a daily healthy update,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “Everybody that has an issue is working on it.
“We’ll let you know when there’s something else to report.’’
For his part, Kaman reported that the injury occurred on aninnocuous play that he made thousands of times.
“It was just a weird play,’’ Kaman said. “I kind of was twisted the wrong way and tried to jump up and finish, and I kind of stretched back my back a little bit.
“It happens sometimes.’’
Kaman, who missed 19 games last year, took the blame for the injury.
“My core strengthening isn’t where I need it to be, so that’s something I’ve got to improve,’’ he said. “It’s not anybody but me.
“I’m not going to blame anybody or point fingers. It’s my responsibilities.’’
Kaman said he just needs to remember the check-list of things he has to go over before hitting the court. Things that will help him keep injuries to a minimal.
“There’s so many things I try to take care of – the ankles, the knees, the back and the shoulders, and all that stuff,’’ Kaman said. “And then you just kind of forget one couple of things here and there, and you get behind and then it happens.
“You’ve just got to really pay attention and stay on top of things, especially early in the season to stay healthy for the long run.’’
In his previous eight seasons, Kaman missed 182 out of a possible 640 games with various ailiments. That includes sitting out 50 games two years ago and 51 games during the 2008-’09 season.
“I just want to stay on top of my rehab so I won’t have to do this throughout the year,’’ Kaman said. “Keep myself happy.
“But the good thing is we have some of the best trainers in the league. So I’m happy about that.’’
The Mavs signed Kaman to a one-year, $8 million contract this past July with designs of him being their starting center after they parted ways with Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi. For now, Kaman isn’t certain if he’ll play in either of the Mavs’ upcoming preseason games in Germany and Spain.
“I don’t want to say for sure,’’ he said. “I can’t guarantee anything right now.
“But my progression has, to me, been faster than I thought it would be. So maybe. We’ll see.’’
-- Dwain Price
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