By REYNALD MAGALLON
Former TNT import Darvin Ham is the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, the team said in a statement on Friday (Saturday, Manila time).
Ham, who is joining the Lakers in a multi-year deal, will be taking the spot vacated by Frank Vogel following a disastrous season that saw the 2020 champions miss out on a playoff spot this year.
“When someone begins his NBA coaching career at the G League level and goes all the way through playing an integral role on the front bench of an NBA Championship team, it really speaks to a certain strength of character,” Lakers president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka said of Ham.
The 48-year-old mentor briefly played in the PBA when he was tapped as Talk N’ Text Phone Pals’ replacement import during the quarterfinals of the 2005-06 Fiesta Conference against Air 21 Express.
Then-TNT head coach Joel Banal brought in Ham to replace Damian Cantrell and team up with PBA stars Asi Taulava, Jimmy Alapag, Willie Miller and Vic Pablo. He made his debut in the Game 3 of the best-of five series.
Ham’s PBA stint, however, proved to be short lived as he only played three games for the team as the Phone Pals were sent packing by the Express in the winner-take-all Game 5. Ham put up decent numbers for TNT with 16.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and two assists.
Ham played two more years before he hung up his jerseys and went to coaching in 2008. He slowly made his way to the NBA from that point having served as a deputy for the Lakers in 2011 to 2013 and Atlanta Hawks in 2013 to 2018.
He then played a key role in the championship run of the Milwaukee Bucks last year as an assistant to coach Mike Budenholzer who he has been working with since 2018.