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Darvin Ham Seeks Advice From Legendary Coach Bill Bertka

Darvin Ham is re-familiarizing himself with the Los Angeles Lakers franchise in his first weeks as the team’s head coach.

Ham’s first NBA coaching job happened to be in L.A. when he served as Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni’s assistant between 2011-2013. Nine years later, the 48-year-old assembles his own Lakers staff, which is expected to include Phil Handy and Quinton Crawford.

As Ham prepares himself for his head coaching debut, he has sought advice from one of the biggest basketball minds in Purple and Gold history during a recent draft workout — the legendary assistant coach Bill Bertka:

Bertka has worked with all the greatest L.A. teams besides the George Mikan-led Minneapolis Lakers. He joined Bill Sharman’s staff in the 1971-72 season when Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich and Pat Riley led the Purple and Gold to the franchise’s first NBA championship of the Los Angeles era.

After a four-year stint with the New Orleans Jazz, Bertka then served as Riley’s assistant, winning four more titles with the “Showtime” Lakers. He won two further chips under Phil Jackson — before transitioning into an executive role in 2002, which he held through the 2011-12 season.

Officially, Bertka’s had a hand in 10 of the Lakers’ 17 titles — not including the 2019-20 championship even though he has been serving as the team’s consultant to this day.

Ham credits Kobe Bryant for coaching growth

After Ham joined L.A. in Bertka’s last season as Lakers executive, he had a chance to work with Kobe Bryant in his first coaching job. During that time, Ham said, Bryant taught him a lot about basketball and gave him confidence in his coaching abilities.

“It was great. God rest his soul,” Ham said. “We spent a lot of time together on the practice floor, individual workouts, watching clips. And [I learned] if I can go back and forth with him, and have him disagree with me and then double back and tell me I was right, we all know how stubborn he was.

“It just gave me a wealth of confidence in myself as a coach. Just seeing him and him sharing different ways he saw the game.”

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