The Los Angeles Lakers’ new head coach Darvin Ham will bring a wealth of wisdom from his playing career in the NBA as well as from his time coaching. Ham has been known for his toughness, competitive drive, and relatability to players.
This hire edges the number of Black head coaches in the NBA up to 15, making up 50 percent of the league. He will become the 28th coach, and the fifth Black coach, in the history of the franchise.
“So damn EXCITED!!!!!!!! Congrats and welcome Coach DHam!!” Lakers forward LeBron James tweeted Friday night.
He signed a four-year contract with the Lakers with the franchise giving him a significant amount of autonomy, including choosing his own coaching staff. During the interview process, a major topic that came up was incorporating guard Russell Westbrook’s gameplay into that of James and Anthony Davis.
Ham has served as an assistant coach under Mike Budenholzer with the Atlanta Hawks from 2013 to 2018 and with the Milwaukee Bucks. He was there when they defeated the Phoenix Suns to win the 2021 NBA Championship.
The new hire comes two months after the franchise parted ways with Frank Vogel.
“In terms of what this team needs right now, we feel like with, obviously, superstars on our team, we want a strong voice that’s able to inspire the players to play at the highest level of competition every night,” general manager Rob Pelinka said after the team fired Vogel. “And I think that’s going to be one of the resounding qualities that we look for in terms of holding everybody from the top player on our team to the 15th man to a degree of accountability.”
Another positive quality was his history of working with big-name players. From 2011-2012, Ham worked for the Lakers as a player development coach under Mike Brown, working with Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, Paul Gasol, and Dwight Howard. That was his first NBA coaching job after coaching in the G League for three years.
In his youth, Ham played high school basketball only during his senior year and attended Otero Junior College in La Junta, Colorado For one year. He then transferred to Texas Tech where he averaged 8.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.0 assists during 22.9 minutes per game; he shot at 59.7 percent from the field and 49.8 percent from the free throw line. He competed for the Red Raiders from 1993-1996.
Ham did not get drafted but became a free agent with the Denver Nuggets in October 1996. He would go on to play eight seasons in the NBA, playing for the Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, and the Detroit Pistons.
In 2004, Ham helped the Pistons defeat the Lakers to win the NBA championship. During his time with the NBA, Ham made 2.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.5 assists for 12.4 minutes per game.