Lakers Video: Darvin Ham Relishes First Win As NBA Head Coach
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Somewhat lost in all the joy of the Los Angeles Lakers finally getting their first win of the season against the Denver Nuggets was the fact that the victory served as the first win as a head coach for Darvin Ham.

After years as an assistant coach under Mike Budenholzer, the Lakers gave Ham his first opportunity as a head coach.

This milestone wasn’t lost on the team, however, as they showered Ham in the locker room after the game, via Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

And following all of that, Ham was able to explain what it meant to him to get that first win. “It’s great,” the Lakers head coach said after the win. “It’s ironic, having started here as a coach and also having started in Denver as a player, that’s where I spent the majority of my rookie season, and all the way back to my parents, everybody.

“To come from where I come from and to be sitting on that sideline, I like to go out pregame and sit on the sideline to just smell the popcorn, see all the people, the buzz that’s in the building. This is a phenomenal building, our fans were awesome tonight. They’re always awesome. Lakers Nation is strong. So I just really wanted to give them something to really be loud and proud about.”

The Lakers faithful was as loud as they have been all season as Russell Westbrook continued to thrive in his bench role while LeBron James and Anthony Davis put forth strong efforts once again. And even though Ham is extremely happy to get that first career victory, he remains focused on his team getting better as they move forward.

“So hopefully we can string a few of these together and just keep growing and learning and growing and learning, and if we have success in the meantime, that’s always great because we got to taste the fruits of our labor tonight,” Ham added. “It was disappointing, some of our losses, because we hadn’t been ran off the floor at all this season. Just those self-inflicted wounds whether they’re turnovers, offensive rebounds, and you go home as a coach and you’re beating yourself up like ‘I should’ve did this, maybe I should’ve called a timeout there.’

“But at the end of the day, the support I’ve gotten from Bron, from Russ, from AD, Pat Bev, all our guys. And then my phenomenal coaching staff, I love them to death. We couldn’t be as organized as we are, I’m the face, I’m the leader but we have phenomenal staff.”

And Ham didn’t stop at the coaching staff as he also praised the Lakers front office as well. “Our front office staff, Rob and Jeanie, have been awesome,” Ham said. “Jeanie sent me a beautiful text this morning and it was just to encourage and just let me know, let Rob know that she loves what she’s seeing and the way we’re competitive, we’re competing and determined.

“All the fight that’s in us. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of and I’m just happy that I was the one that was chosen. I’m thankful to God and it’s a beautiful time. I’m just looking forward to more. All the ups, all the downs, the good, bad and different, we’re gonna navigate it all because we’re strong, we’re family. We say ‘Family on three’ in the locker room. Not compete, not together, but family. And it resonated today.”

Lakers coach Darvin Ham ‘happy’ for Russell Westbrook thriving in bench role

One of the biggest reasons Ham was able to get his first career victory was the play of Westbrook. Since moving to a bench role, Westbrook has played much better and Ham praised him for accepting and thriving in the role.

“I’m so happy for him man, he’s the last couple of games, Minnesota and tonight, he’s been phenomenal,” Ham said. “Nothing short of amazing and I think I’m so happy. I can’t even imagine what that kid is going through. One of the biggest things about me getting this job was for him to get that respect that he deserves because a lot of went on last year was not his fault and everything, all of the blame, was placed on him.”

“I told him just listen to me, believe in me bro. I’m gonna put you in position to succeed with the group but you gave to put the group first. It can’t be about me or I or mine, it’s got to be us, ours, we. And he’s done that.”

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