During his chat with Andrews, Ham spoke about his relationship with Lakers superstar LeBron James, who has already had substantial conversations with his new coach.
“Oh wow. You know, just knowing him when he first came in the league and being able to play against him his first couple of years, you know, just the admiration and the respect I have for him, not only with what he does on the court but what he’s able to do off the court and just the magnitude of his impact with our youth and our culture,” Ham said about James. “His communication with me has been great, phenomenal. And to see him so excited, it really sent chills through me, man.
“It was a great, great moment. I wanna help him. I wanna help him maintain that level he’s playing at, at this stage of his career. We’re gonna do everything in our power for him, AD, Russ to all be healthy and to be defensive-minded and reset that standard, that championship defensive standard. It’s been great, man. Just talkin’ to him and exchanging ideas and sending him what, you know, little remnants of what our system is gonna look like going forward this season. It’s been awesome.”
James took to Twitter after ESPN reported that Ham was hired by the Lakers on May 27. The King is looking forward to working with Ham and leading Los Angeles to another championship.
Ham: James Is Excited to Get to Work
Ham told Andrews that James is excited to get to work. The Lakers missed the playoffs in 2021-22 despite having James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook and the second-best preseason odds to win the title.
“His energy through the phone was unbelievable,” Ham said about James. “We laughed. We got serious. We just went back and forth. We’re like-minded. You know, we’re both midwest kids. Akron, Ohio is not too different from Saginaw, Michigan. I’ll just tell you that right now. But we have that bond, that common midwest kid bond, and the type of player he is, he wants to uplift everyone around him. It’s not a, ‘me, me, me’ thing with him. It’s, ‘us’. It’s, ‘we.’ It’s, ‘ours.’ And we have to go about our business in that manner and again, re-establish that championship standard starting on the defensive end.”
The Lakers were a walking disaster in 2021-22. They won only 33 games and gave up 115.1 points. James averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 56 starts and recorded 21 double-doubles and six triple-doubles. However, he missed the playoffs for the second time since signing with the Lakers in 2018.
Ham Will Hold His Stars Accountable
Ham plans to hold James, Davis and Westbrook accountable. He told reporters during his introductory press conference that no one on the Lakers will get preferential treatment.
“My goal is continue with the development of our younger players and make those guys comfortable where they’re not having to run to a telephone booth and put a cape on and try to save the day,” Ham said. “And if there’s mistakes made, I have to be able to coach those three guys like I do the rest of the roster. We have a saying, ‘Facts over feelings.’ And once you see the film, that’s a fact. You missed your assignment, then that has to be pointed out. Because if I can’t point it out to one of our Big Three, then the last man or someone in the rotation, they’re not going to take what we’re doing seriously.”
Ham will be the fourth former player to coach James. LeBron has played for Paul Silas, Tyronn Lue and Luke Walton.