His voice was hoarse and the more a happy Lakers coach Darvin Ham spoke to the media, the more difficult it became for him to speak in his normally deep and clear tone.
He had just won his first game as the Lakers coach, the 5-0 start was a thing of the past, the Lakers finally clinched a win for their first-year coach and themselves.
Standing up to leave the post-game interview, Ham apologized after his 12-minute chat with the media.
“Sorry about my voice,” he said, smiling.
Ham really didn’t need to apologize.
The Lakers were the last team in the NBA to win a game that season, and they faced a Denver Nuggets team that helped Ham break into the league as a player in 1996-97. Ham got his first coaching job in the NBA in 2011 as an assistant with the Lakers.
All of these things went through his mind as Ham talked about the 121-110 win.
“Laker Nation is strong. So I really wanted to give them something to be really loud and proud of,” Ham said. “Hopefully we can string a few of these together and just keep growing and learning and growing and learning. And when we’re successful in the meantime, that’s always great. Because tonight we can taste the fruits of our labor. …”
The losses took a toll on Ham and left him wondering what he could have done better to put the Lakers in a game-winning position. He said he would “go home as a coach and you get ready.”
He’d be like, “I should have done that, maybe I should have taken some time off there.”
“But at the end of the day the support I got from Bron [LeBron James]from Russ [Westbrook]from AD [Anthony Davis]PatBev [Beverley], all our boys,” said Ham, “from our phenomenal coaching staff, I love them to death. I could not. …We couldn’t be as organized without…I’m the face, I’m the leader, but we have a phenomenal team…”
Ham added: “It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of and I’m just happy that I was the one who was chosen. I am thankful to God. It’s a great time and I’m just looking forward to more. All the ups, all the downs, the good, the bad, indifferent. We will overcome all this because we are strong. We are a family.”
Here are three takeaways from the Lakers’ first win of the season:
1) As Ham got up to give his post-game speech to the team in the dressing room, he was interrupted by Beverley.
Before Ham knew it, his players were showering him with buckets of water, celebrating with him, enjoying the moment with him.
They wanted Ham to know how much he was appreciated.
“Very nice little bathroom,” said Davis, who played through back pain that kept him out of the Minnesota game on Friday night. “I mean he was great for us. We can’t ask for more from a coach. And that’s kind of why we feel the way we felt before tonight. We deserved it, he deserved it and it was good to give him his first win as head coach. He gave a speech and it was like, ‘All right, Coach, we don’t care what you say,’ and then we drowned him with water.”
2) Westbrook had the basketball behind the three-point line, and Denver’s Bruce Brown was several yards from the Lakers guard and challenged him to shoot. As Westbrook hesitated, the crowd began to stir, encouraging him to take the shot.
Westbrook did, burying the three, glancing at the Nuggets’ bench while forming his hand into three fingers as he ran across the court in the third quarter.
As a team, the Lakers were sensational from the three-point line. They shot 43.3% (13 for 30).
They started the season 10-40 of three at the Golden State, nine-45 against the Clippers, six-33 against the Trail Blazers, eight-30 in Denver, and nine-29 in Minnesota (23.7%).
Ham encouraged his team to keep shooting the three, believing better days were ahead.
“I mean, listen, if you play the game right like we’ve done so far this season, we’ve given ourselves some really good looks because we’ve shared the ball,” said James, who was two for two -Five shots from three-point range. “And tonight they went in for us. We trusted it. We had to get in and the guys kicked out and the guys kicked in their shots. Just trust the work you do.”
3) Another plus point for the Lakers was the mentoring of basketball.
They only had nine turnovers. James (three), Westbrook (three) and Davis (two) had the most of them, but they also made the right plays for their teammates most of the time.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/story/2022-10-31/lakers-nuggets-takeaways-sunday Lakers-Nuggets takeaways: How L.A. finally got a win