The Los Angeles Lakers are no stranger to eventful off-seasons. But sometimes with so many rumors swirling, some things get overlooked. In June, the team brought in a new head coach, Darvin Ham, and it initially seemed to do just that. With no head coaching experience, the question becomes, is Ham the right man for the job?
Ham was an undrafted player out of Texas Tech in 1996. He signed with the Denver Nuggets, but spent the majority of his eight-year playing career as a journeyman. He played for the Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons.
Ham was a member of the 2004 Pistons team, who beat the Lakers in the finals. By 2008, Ham had retired from the NBA and began working as a coach for the NBA G League. His first NBA coaching opportunity came as an assistant coach for the Lakers. The fact that the Lakers were the first team to give him an opportunity did not go unnoticed. In his introductory press conference, he stated “the fact that I got my start coaching here, this place will always be special to me.”
In 2014 Ham left the Lakers and joined head coach Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta, once again as an assistant coach. He was hand-picked by coach Budenholzer, and quickly became a vital part of his staff. The duo won a championship together with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021.
By the end of last season, it became clear coach Frank Vogel would not be returning to the Lakers. As soon as the season ended, the Lakers began interviewing potential head coaches. Throughout the entire interview process, Hamm seemed to be the front runner. On June 6, 2022, the Lakers announced he would be the 28th coach in franchise history.
While Ham will be a first-time head coach, the Lakers organization and its players are completely on board with the decision. Russell Westbrook was in attendance at the press conference. While team star LeBron James expressed his backing of the decision on Twitter. James tweeted that he is “so damn EXCITED!”
Ham is joining an increasingly long list of former players turned head coaches in the past few years. Only time will tell if Ham is the right man for the job, but it is a big vote of confidence that his team is behind him.
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