LeBron James offers curt assessment of Darvin Ham, praises Ty Lue for fixing Clippers

LeBron James expressed support for Darvin Ham, though stopped short of a full-throated endorsement.

LeBron James technically voiced support for embattled Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham, though it was far from a full-throated endorsement. The Lakers (18-19) had lost four games in a row and 10 of 13 before their 106-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night. LeBron had yet to publicly comment on Ham’s job performance.
“By just staying and just keeping us prepared when it’s time to go out for battle,” LeBron said when asked how Ham has managed the Lakers amid their struggles. (He rushed through the response so fast that he barely enunciated.)

Moments later, LeBron went out of his way to praise his good friend and former colleague Ty Lue — specifically, for how Lue quickly engineered the Clippers’ turnaround following the James Harden trade. The Clippers (22-12) dropped their first five games with Harden, who made his debut on Nov. 6. They had won 14 of 16 heading into Sunday’s showdown at Crypto.com Arena.

“You said the ‘James Harden Clippers?’” LeBron replied when asked about his take on the new-look Clippers. “Nah. It’s the ‘T-Lue Clippers’….Don’t take T-Lue long to make sure sh*t get right. Took him five games, and they’ve been cooking since.”

LeBron has lauded Lue — who steered the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA championship in 2016 — on multiple occasions since joining the Lakers.

“T-Lue is great. Simple as that,” LeBron said in December 2021. “…He’s great at every facet of the game. As a coach, he doesn’t have a weakness.” Later that season, James called Lue — whom the Lakers famously low-balled before hiring Frank Vogel — “simply the BEST coach in the game!”

Ham’s performance has come under increased scrutiny in recent days. Before the Lakers’ loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, Ham strongly refuted reports of discontent coming from within the Lakers’ locker room and claimed to have the support of Lakers brass. (LeBron said the Lakers “suck” postgame).

A ringing endorsement from LeBron would surely cool Ham’s seat — even more so than a victory.

Against the Clippers, the Lakers scrapped and clawed their way to the much-needed win. LeBron (25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) and Anthony Davis (22 points, 10 rebounds) credited timely contributions from Christian Wood, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Taurean Prince. The Lakers’ stifling halfcourt defense held the Clippers to 39.6% shooting.

“It takes ‘The Others’ to win championships,” explained Davis. “When these guys are playing well, it just makes me and Bron’s jobs a lot easier.”

“Once everyone pitches in and does their job as long as they can, as best as they can, good things usually happen and that’s what you saw tonight, a well-balanced win,” noted Ham. “Everybody contributed, competed at a very high level. And I’m proud of them. Now the cat’s out the bag for this one, in terms of how we need to approach each and every game and everybody do it as a committee.”

The most effective way the Lakers can show support for Ham is, of course, by playing with intensity, executing their scheme, and winning games. By those metrics, Sunday marked a step in the right direction (the Lakers even have a new internal metric to measure effort).

“We came out with a sense of urgency,” said AD. “We played hard… competed on both sides of the basketball. Just need to build off it.”