To the surprise of absolutely no one, Darvin Ham is excited to coach LeBron James.
The new Los Angeles Lakers head coach called James "one of one" in an interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape:
"One of one. None like him before him, none after him. Rare. Rare commodity. Exclusive. Never seen anything like him. I'm so happy and thankful he's doing what he's doing. He's showing these kids how to really get it done, man, in such a classy way and such a real way. The kids from Akron, Ohio. I'm a Midwest kid, Saginaw, Michigan. I resonate with that. It might be different states, but a lot of that s— is all the same. So, him being an Akron kid and me being from Saginaw, I totally resonate with him, and to see his ascension, how he's handled all of that pressure and expectations and has delivered on and off the floor, he's a one of one."
Ham's categorization is valid. James is, by any objective measure, one of the two or three greatest players in NBA history. He also came to the NBA as "The Chosen One," given more pressure than any high school athlete in sports history.
Not only did James live up to the hype, but he's also exceeded it—both on and off the court. He has never found the off-court trouble that has hampered numerous players who experienced riches and stardom at a young age, instead choosing to put his money back into the community. On the court, James has four championship rings, four MVPs and 18 All-Star selections to put himself in the pantheon of the sport's all-time greats.
Ham will coach James at a point when he's no longer considered the NBA's best player. The 37-year-old is approaching his 20th year in the NBA and has missed 53 games over the past two seasons. While the Lakers won the 2020 NBA championship, they have missed the playoffs twice in James' three other seasons with the franchise and been ousted in the first round once.
Ham says he hopes to reach James and the rest of the Lakers stars by preaching accountability:
"We just make it about the principles. How are we going to help each other? We're going to keep it simple. We're going to hold each other accountable. Three words, I told them. I said they're going to hear it until they're blue in the face. Competitiveness, togetherness and accountability. That's for all of us. Competitiveness, togetherness and accountability. That's how we're going to be on the same page."