Lakers coach Darvin Ham is a two-time NBA champion. He says nothing has ever been handed to him throughout his life or his career.
So when Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr publicly accused Lakers players of flopping during the teams’ Western Conference semifinals series this spring, Ham took it personally.
During an appearance on the “#thisleague UNCUT” podcast earlier this week, Ham compared Kerr’s words to “playing chess, playing poker, whatever you want to call it, guys trying to give themselves any and every chance in every possible way to come out on top of a situation and be victorious.”
When told that Kerr was following the lead of former Chicago Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who would often use the media to plant an idea in officials’ heads, Ham responded, “It’s lame as hell.”
A spokesperson for the Warriors told The Times that Kerr had no comment on Ham’s remarks. The Lakers did not immediately respond to follow-up questions for Ham.
During the first four games of the Lakers-Warriors series, L.A. attempted 103 free throws while Golden State was awarded only 48 such shots. Speaking to reporters May 9 after a Game 4 Warriors loss, Kerr said of the Lakers, “I thought they took some flops and were rewarded.”
He doubled down the next day, telling media members he was issuing a “personal plea to the NBA.”
“I think we can do better in terms of cleaning up the flopping,” he said. “In the meantime, I give the Lakers credit for the plays that they’ve been able to sell.”
A day later in Game 5, the Lakers and Warriors each attempted 15 free throws.
“We play a physical brand of basketball. We don’t teach flopping, we don’t teach head-snaps,” Ham said that day. “You see Bron, he’s got a thousand scratches on his arms, same with AD, same with Austin Reaves, same with Lonnie Walker. It’s unfortunate that it comes to that, but we hadn’t done it all year, and we’re damn sure not going to start now, looking for a third party to dive in and help us.”
Two nights later, the Lakers clinched the series win. More than two months after the fact, though, Ham is still clearly annoyed with Kerr’s comments.
“When I’m hearing different sound bites and I’m seeing the game within the game being played in the media and all that, I don’t f— with it. I don’t want nothing to do with it,” Ham said on the podcast. “I’m sorry, excuse my language, but nothing came easy for me, you know, in terms of crossing the Ts and dotting the I’s and within my career whether I was a player or coaching. …
“I’ll be damned if I let someone else try to manipulate the way we approach our game, the competitiveness in which we come with, like we’re trying to disguise and try to pull the wool over someone’s eyes. No, we’re coming out, we’re playing smash-mouth basketball. That’s the way we teach it, that’s the way we preach it and that’s the way we’re going to execute it when the lights come on.”