Darvin Ham faces a monstrous challenge in his first job as head coach, leading the Los Angeles Lakers in the last years of the LeBron James era.
Ham’s toughness and championship pedigree have reportedly won James over. The 48-year-old has also been the Lakers faithful’s favorite for the position. Among the 2004 NBA champion’s first challenges as head coach, he now has to assemble his staff — with former Detroit Pistons teammate Rasheed Wallace reportedly “identified as a candidate” for the job.
Ham’s NBA coaching career started in L.A. He served as Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni’s assistant between 2011-2013, before moving on to work for Mike Budenholzer on the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks. Nine years later, Ham says the reunion feels like a homecoming.
“Well, you know, they made the decision, and I was wholeheartedly open for it,” Ham said during his introductory press conference. “The emotion comes from when you’ve been with a special person in this business for the last nine years in Coach Bud. Having started out with him in Atlanta, his first day as a head coach and now I’m getting to leave and I think to myself, at least he dropped me off when he picked me up at.
“He picked me up from here in L.A. So the fact that I’m coming back to LA he was thrilled, super thrilled. He and Jon Horst, Milt Newton. That whole staff up there, man. All the coaches and front office and performance team. I mean, we’re all like family. It’s a family setting. But knowing that this is the team and the franchise that gave me my start, you know, albeit it was Mike Brown that hired me, you know, the Buss family had to sign off on it. And the fact that I got my start as a coach here, this place will always be special to me, always was special to me always paid attention to what was going on with the Lakers, even in my other travels through Atlanta and Milwaukee.
“So it’s like a homecoming for me in all seriousness.”
Ham takes over after the Lakers went from championship aspirations to missing out on the playoffs in just one season. But the new head coach believes L.A. can become successful again if the team puts in the hard work.
“We’re not putting a ceiling on our situation. And we go as far as our daily preparation takes us, Ham said.
“You hit people, well, are they going to do this? Are they going to do that we’re going to get better every day. That’s what we’re going to do. And the things we’re going to do in that daily process will lead to the type of success this franchise and this city has been accustomed to.
Russell Westbrook appears to approve of Ham’s takeover
Russell Westbrook fell out with former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel during his first season in L.A. However, he appears happy with the franchise’s choice for the head coaching job, as the 2017 NBA MVP reposted the Lakers’ official announcement of Ham’s hiring on his Instagram account.
Westbrook also turned up to Ham’s introductory press conference on Monday.
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