The first welcome tweet on Friday was probably the tip.
So EXCITED!!!!!!!! Congratulations and welcome Coach DHam!! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 #LakeShow💜💛
— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 28, 2022
“So EXCITED!!!!!!!! Congratulations and welcome Coach DHam!! #LakeShow,” LeBron James wrote, adding five clapping hands and two hearts, one purple and one gold.
If the superstar is not just excited but eight exclamation points excited, that’s a pretty good start for Darvin Ham’s first NBA head coaching job.
Ham, whose hiring and four-year contract was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday, isn’t technically starting at the top, as the 2021-22 Lakers were 33-49 and missed. the game turn to create the coaches opening. in the first place.
But in another sense, it is. Despite all the perceived flaws of the Lakers organization, it remains one of the prestige franchises, and therefore one of the prestige jobs, not just in the NBA but in all sports.
It comes with the pressure that comes with it. It’s a team with a national profile and a national fan base, a legacy team on the same level as the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Yankees. Even when they suck, people care, not just nationally, but around the world. A Google search survey by sidelines.io a few weeks ago found the Lakers to be the most searched team in 25 of the 50 states, coast to coast, plus Alaska and Hawaii. The next best? The Celtics with six, all in New England States.
Hardly scientific, it’s true. But the thing is, where there’s interest, there’s scrutiny, specifically in Los Angeles. Good thing, then, Ham would get that four-year contract. This provides him with a lead he will need, as the roster-building issues that plagued the Lakers last season have not gone away.
Notably, as of 9:30 p.m. Friday night, there was still no welcome tweet from @russwest44, Russell Westbrook’s blue-checked Twitter page. Westbrook is expected to collect his $47.1 million player option for 2022-23 by the June 29 deadline, when the Lakers will need to determine if their landmark acquisition from last summer fits the vision. of this summer.
Problems remain. The players who were complementary pieces to a championship team in 2000 had dispersed last season, with the likes of Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma replaced by veterans who, in several cases, weren’t didn’t have as much in them. as they thought they had. The Lakers couldn’t stay healthy, they didn’t chain together when they were healthy, and Frank Vogel took the fall.
Ultimately, when high profile jobs like this become available, it’s because someone failed. (Hint: it’s not always the previous coach.)
That said, there are reasons to believe in this decision.
Ham played eight seasons in the NBA, and in fact the @ESPNNBA account tweeted a photo of Ham guarding James during a game in 2004.
This photo of Darvin Ham guarding LeBron in 2004 😳 pic.twitter.com/KdPRPob82z
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 28, 2022
He has experience in the Lakers organization, serving as an assistant in 2011-12 and 12-13 under Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni in a player development role.
He has extensive experience, as a player not only in the NBA but in the G-League and abroad, and as a head coach and assistant in the G-League in addition to his experience on the bench of the NBA. And he has two rings, one as a Detroit player in 2004 (at the expense of the Lakers) and one with the Bucks last season, so he understands that process.
He’s a branch of a pretty solid coaching tree. Mike Budenholzer earned his stripes under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio and as a head coach in Atlanta and Milwaukee. Quin Snyder, Kenny Atkinson and Taylor Jenkins, and now Ham, have been hired from his team.
Ham was given the responsibility. During a June 2020 podcast with his former Milwaukee coach, George Karl, Ham said, “Coach Bud let me have a voice, he let me grow, he left me with responsibilities. . And we do it all. I do player development, I do game plans, I look for some of the biggest teams that I have to prepare our team for. So it’s a favorable situation, and it allowed me to be me.
And obviously, he’s shown his ability to speak truth to power, in NBA terms, by getting his points across to stars and veterans, but doing it in a way that doesn’t pierce the ego of anyone. ‘a player. He worked with Kobe Bryant, he worked with Giannis Antetokounmpo, and I imagine he would go great with James and Anthony Davis.
Westbrook? He could probably make that work too, but we’ll see.
Another guy who has demonstrated the ability to speak uncomfortable truths to superstars? Tyronn Lue, now the Clippers’ head coach (and, three seasons ago, the guy who apparently had the inside track to replace Luke Walton as Lakers coach before negotiations broke down). It should be noted that Lue won a championship as a freshman head coach, with James in 2016 at Cleveland after taking over mid-season. More recently, first-year head coach Nick Nurse won a title in Toronto in 2019, not that there was any pressure or anything.
Ham obviously passed the interview on Thursday, as the Lakers offered him a contract on Friday. Now comes the hardest part.
But it could work well.