Darvin Ham was introduced as the new coach of the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, with point guard Russell Westbrook cheering him on from the sidelines.
Former League Player Returned As Coach!
After a rocky first season in Los Angeles for the former league MVP, Ham returned the favor to Westbrook.
Ham said. “I don’t understand why people want to dismiss Russell Westbrook, one of our league’s top players .”
Los Angeles had one of the worst seasons in team history after dealing for Westbrook on the day of the NBA draught in 2021. The Lakers went from being a preseason betting favorite to win the title to missing the playoffs entirely, finishing 11th in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record.
“Man, Russ and I had some really, really good one-on-one chats,” Ham said, “and the most crucial word that came out of those conversations was sacrifice.”
“I anticipate him to be the tough, high-energy player he has been throughout his career.”
A lot of things might happen now that he doesn’t have the ball in his hand. The majority of it may now be on the defensive end. But, once again, we must make sacrifices. There is no way to achieve anything until all parties share the burden and sacrifice together, rather than one-on-one.”
Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations and general manager, was on hand to greet Ham and expressed his excitement for the 48-year-old Ham’s appointment as the team’s 28th coach.
According to sources, Pelinka said Ham was the “unanimous choice” of the team’s hiring committee after interviewing Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee, Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, and former Warriors head coach and current ESPN NBA broadcaster, Mark Jackson.
“I’m simply ecstatic to be able to sit next to him for what he stands for as a man, as a coach, as a parent, and as a spouse,” Pelinka said. “And to band together in order to take this franchise to new heights.”
Ham began his NBA coaching career with the Lakers as an assistant on Mike Brown’s staff in 2012-13, following an eight-year NBA playing career and a spell teaching and working in the NBA’s developing league’s front office.
Ham, who has auditioned for a few coaching jobs in recent years, including one with the Charlotte Hornets this summer, said things just fell into place in Los Angeles.
“Timing. It’s all about the timing “Before taking a humorous joke at the other front offices he spoke with, Ham remarked. “I want to express my gratitude to all of the teams that passed on me so that I could reunite with Rob and the Buss family.”
Following his tenure with the Lakers, Ham worked with Mike Budenholzer for over a decade with the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks, earning an NBA championship in 2021.
“As painful as it is for me to be leaving Coach Bud, you have to travel that road on your own sometimes,” Ham remarked, his voice breaking as he spoke about his former employer. “We went from co-players to friends to brothers while creating the history.”
At the news conference, Westbrook was accompanied by a number of the Lakers’ younger players, including Austin Reaves, Stanley Johnson, and Wenyen Gabriel.
Los Angeles’ burgeoning potential, as well as the Big Three of Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis, will require regular coaching, according to Ham.
“My goal is to continue to develop our younger players and to put those men at ease so they don’t have to run to a phone booth, put on a cape, and try to save the day,” says the coach.
“‘Facts over sentiments,’ as the phrase goes. And after seeing the film, you’ll understand why. If you failed to complete your task, you must be reminded of this. Because if I can’t point it out to one of our Big Three, then the last man or someone in the rotation won’t take us seriously.”
Ham’s personality, according to Pelinka, should help fill up a gap where the Lakers fell short last season under coach Frank Vogel.
Ham said he hasn’t finalized his coaching staff yet, but Rasheed Wallace, a former Detroit Pistons player, is a “candidate” to join him in Los Angeles.
With the Lakers coming off a season in which they ranked 22nd in offensive efficiency and 21st in defensive efficiency, Ham stated that the team’s comeback would begin with a focus on stopping the ball.
“You’ll see our biggest leaps and bounds defensively,” Ham added.
While restoring the Lakers to championship form may appear to be a difficult assignment, Ham brought a lifetime’s worth of experience to the job, reducing the strain.
It will either make you afraid or fearless. I became courageous as a result of it. I’m not under any duress. It’s a game of basketball, after all. This is a difficult situation.