Twenty-five years before he became Los Angeles Lakers head coach, Darvin Ham was just looking to carve a role in the NBA.
He had been on three teams in two seasons before finally settling on the Milwaukee Bucks and becoming a solid role player. Ham’s NBA journey of six teams in eight years is a unique path for a head coach. Ham even played a year in the Philippine Basketball Association.
The route adds to Ham’s vision as head coach. It made being officially introduced as Lakers head coach a little more special.
“I think it makes you more appreciative. I wasn’t blessed with this otherworldly talent,” Ham said. “You know, I was a pretty good athlete that could hold my own on the court a little bit. But still, the sweet jump shots or the no-look passes that wasn’t my game (laughs).”
As his playing career concluded, Ham became known for his toughness and no-nonsense mentality as an assistant. He carried the same as a player, unable to rely on cutting corners due to his talent and, in turn, establishing a detail-oriented mentality.
“So just having to be a blue-collar type contributor on a lot of various teams from high school to junior college, to Texas Tech to the pros like a championship team in Detroit,” Ham said. “I think it prepares you, and it creates a certain type of mentality to where you don’t want to cut any corners like you have to make sure you’re on point. Understand, what the details are, whether we’re watching film, and you’re talking about coverages or your workouts in the summertime.”
With LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook as the main stars of the team, finding strong role players will be imperative. Ham spoke about his eagerness to witness the growth of the Lakers’ current role players.
“Being specifically locked in on what it is your job is going to be. And being able to coach these guys at this level,” Ham said. “That’s, you know, everybody here that’s playing in NBA has talent. But how do you focus that talent in the right areas in the right directions?
“So your team can thrive based on what you’re as being one of many contributions and you know, we know we have our stars and Bron, AD, Russ and the like, and, but it’s those Austin Reaves and Stanley Johnson’s. So you know, these guys, the more they continue to get better. Sometimes it’s the most fulfilling because they’re growing, you’re developing and growing your kids from within. And I’ve seen that happen when we were in Atlanta; I saw it happen in Milwaukee. And I wholeheartedly anticipated happening here in L.A.”
Ham says Davis is “key” to the Lakers
A key question going into the Lakers’ upcoming season is how Davis will respond after a tough season. The pressure is on for Davis, and Ham added on to it, calling him the key to the Lakers’ success.
“We need him to be in a good mental space, and we need him to be consistent as possible and back to playing that championship-type basketball,” Ham said.
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