(Editors’ Note: Darvin Ham is in his first season as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a longtime NBA assistant coach and as a player helped the Detroit Pistons win the NBA title in 2004.)
When I got hired to coach the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the first things that I saw was the tweet where LeBron James congratulated me.
I’m not on social media myself, but people I know who are, and they saw it and screen-shotted it and sent it to me. All the major platforms were showing the tweet, so I got his number and called him and just had a lot of laughs.
That’s when I started to learn what he’s all about. There was a lot of excitement on that call. There was energy both ways. We were ready to get started, ready to get going. He was verbalizing it, that I have his full support and that we were going to figure this thing out, to right the ship, so to speak. He said we’re going to get back to the way we should be performing and what we’re representing in terms of the Lakers. And he’s lived up to that every step of the way.
I waited a long time for a job like this. And working with LeBron, it’s an interactive type of relationship. He has a willingness to be coached. I’ll just start there. That’s the most awesome thing about ‘Bron. He allows himself to be coached. You can get on him in a film session. You can point out mistakes. He’ll either admit it — “my bad” — or if he disagrees, he’ll disagree. And we figure it out. But it’s never anything malicious. It’s never anything personal. It’s not about his way or my way. We’re trying to figure out the best way.
That’s who he is. Everything has to be the best way. He’s one of one. His size, his athleticism, his shooting capabilities, his playmaking capabilities … we haven’t seen anything like him before.
I don’t think he’s ever wanted the scoring record. He’s about team. He wants the team to do well. That’s the thing that shines through. He’s everything that he’s been advertised to be and much more. But just being around him and seeing him, I know he really enjoys his teammates. I’d even go as far as to say all this attention embarrasses him a little. When everybody’s trying to shine a light on him individually, he handles it with grace, don’t get me wrong, but he would much rather be a part of a group celebration than everyone talking about how great he is.
And we all know he’s great. Arguably the greatest. But he would prefer that everything be group focused. He’s about “How can my team and my teammates be put in the best position to be successful, not just me?” It’s a beautiful thing to see. It’s a beautiful thing to live every day and witness firsthand.
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