People who know new Lakers coach Darvin Ham praise his virtues: ‘He’s the right guy’

The job, as much as it is anything else, requires a coach to stand next to LeBron James, a player who has been one of basketball’s most famous since he was in high school, and forge a partnership.

So, naturally, the Lakers went and hired Darvin Ham, who spent most his one-year high school basketball career on the bench.

“I didn’t know him,” former Saginaw High coach Marshall Thomas said with a laugh.

Ham moved to the big seat on the Lakers bench from one of the last ones at Saginaw High (with NBA championships as a player and an assistant coach) as part of a journey defined by one of his biggest strengths — his persistence.

“There’s nothing we can do as far as making any claims for him. Darvin has carved his own path,” Thomas said. “And he started his own path by not giving up.”

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The news of Ham’s hiring — which still hasn’t been announced by the Lakers — has been met with endorsements from those who crossed paths with Ham during his career: former coaches, teammates and colleagues lauding the Lakers for handing things over to a first-time coach.

“He’s going to be honest as a coach of the Lakers, which is what I think you need in the NBA today — somebody that’s going to be honest but know how to be honest without actually just tearing you down,” former teammate Chauncey Billups,…

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