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CLIPPERS FYI

Players' long-ago generosity to mentor and coach is revealed

Former assistant coach Kim Hughes says Chris Kaman and then-teammates Elton Brand, Corey Maggette and Marko Jaric seven years ago helped pay for $70,000 life-saving operation to treat prostate cancer.

March 15, 2011|By Lisa Dillman

There was no self-promoting going on seven years ago, not a single news release when four NBA players got together to help pay for a life-saving operation for their mentor and coach.

"They were not seeking attention," Kim Hughes said Tuesday. "Clearly they did it for the right reasons. When I first had the surgery, I didn't know what they had done until my wife, Christy, told me. I was totally shocked."

Hughes, the former Clippers assistant coach, was talking about current Clippers center Chris Kaman and his then-teammates Elton Brand, Corey Maggette and Marko Jaric. The players helped cover an out-of-network procedure after Hughes was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The news only just came to light a day ago in the Racine Journal Times in a feature about Maggette, who is now with the Milwaukee Bucks, and the newspaper quoted Hughes as saying the operation cost $70,000.

Instead of having to wait to have surgery, Hughes immediately had the procedure, which he said was not covered by his medical insurance. And the swiftness may have saved his life.

"Subsequently, if I would have waited two months, it would have been too late," Hughes said.

Kaman remains a behind-the-scenes benefactor and seemed almost taken aback by the kudos coming his way.

"I don't know the whole situation of what was going on," Kaman said to The Times at practice. "It wasn't covered all the way. We all felt like we need to chip in and take care of that for him.

"I talked to Elton. I felt bad: 'How much does he need?' It's a tough thing for anybody having to have that surgery. It's very invasive, I remember he was out for so long he couldn't lift anything and real sore for a long time. He went through a lot."

The act remains as powerful as it did for Hughes seven years ago. So much so that he said he would give up a kidney if any of the players ever needed one.

"Hopefully, they all don't ask for a kidney at the same time," Hughes said, laughing.

Said Kaman, joking: "I don't need his old … kidney. I don't think I want his kidney. Hopefully I never need a kidney. I just wouldn't feel right doing that, 'Thanks for your organ. It's right in here.' "

Etc.

There was an Eric Gordon sighting. He did some dribbling and some shooting after the team watched game film of Monday night's blowout loss at Memphis.

Gordon is improving but wants to get in at least a couple of complete practices before testing his injured right wrist in a game situation.

"I haven't really set a timetable but I know it will be soon," he said. "I'm just trying to figure out when I have a good comfort level and when I'll be able to play. After that, I should be pretty sure and see how it goes from there."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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