Darvin Ham applied and interviewed for a handful of NBA head coaching jobs but was passed over each time. For the Los Angeles Lakers in 2022, however, he was the unanimous selection to be the storied franchise’s next head coach.
During his introductory press conference on Monday, alongside Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, Ham said it was God’s timing that this opportunity was the one that worked out.
“Timing is everything,” Ham said. “Like I said, I put my faith in God. He’s the Master of all plans and I just want to take this time to thank all of those teams that passed on me so I could end up right back where I need to be with Rob and the Buss family.
“It’s all good. I’m good, trust me. You live, you learn, you seek out an opportunity and if you don’t get it, you just keep getting better and keep trying to add more things to your repertoire.”
A native of Saginaw, Michigan, and a former NBA player from 1996-2005, Ham turned to coaching after his playing days. His NBA coaching career began in 2011 with the Lakers before leaving in 2013 to be an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks from 2013-2018 and, most recently, the Milwaukee Bucks from 2018-2022. To him, returning to the city of his first NBA coaching stop feels like a “homecoming,” he said.
Pelinka described it in the press conference as an “incredibly bright and promising day in Laker history.”
Pelinka continued later, “It’s easy to be grateful when you find a candidate that you feel is the ideal fit for what the franchise is looking for. That’s what Coach Ham represents to us.”
Before Ham even began talking strategy or long-term plans for the team, he gave credit to God.
“First of all, I want to thank God,” Ham said. “Coming from where I come from, I was raised in a household with strong, spiritual faith, belief in God and His Son Jesus Christ, so I want to start with that. Everything I’ve been able to overcome in my life, along with the people around me, it’s been that Spirit that was instilled in me as a youngster.”
Man of the Hour pic.twitter.com/gLtGCACBjf
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 6, 2022
In response to a question about handling the pressure of coaching the Lakers, Ham shared that one of the things he’s had to overcome was accidentally being shot in the face when he was a teenager.
“You go through something like that, it’s going to do one of two things: It’s going to make you fearful or fearless. It made me fearless,” he said. “I don’t feel no pressure. It’s basketball. You want to talk about some of our military representatives across the seas fighting for our democracy, that’s pressure. This here is a challenge.”
Los Angeles has won 17 championships in its history, tied with the Boston Celtics for the most all time. The Lakers’ latest title came against the Miami Heat during the pandemic-shortened season in 2020 completed inside the “bubble” at Disney World near Orlando, Florida. Ham said it will take similar “sacrifices” from everyone involved in order to win it all again.
Ham’s hire has been met with praise from current Lakers players and others around the league, and he credited the experience in the bubble in particular with helping him form bonds with current Lakers players and ownership.
He said his parents raised him to be someone who engages people in a “respectful, loving manner” and relates to them on a human level. That has apparently struck a chord with those in the Lakers organization.
“We got to engage one another and see the human side of one another,” he said. “A lot of those tweets, and the messages I’ve gotten from different players I’ve coached, players who are no longer in the league, some are still in the league, I attribute that to just being common and just being a good source of energy.
“It was humbling. It’s become a little overwhelming at times, just to see all the love. I just thank God for it.”
Ham hopes his engaging persona will help lead a resurgence for a Lakers team filled with stars like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. Many pegged Los Angeles as the preseason favorite a year ago, but the team finished a disappointing 33-49 in 11th place in the Western Conference.
The Lakers schedule for Ham’s first season as head coach will be released later this summer.
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