When the L.A. Lakers announced Darvin Ham as their head coach next season, there were a lot of mixed reactions from fans and critics. Count Charles Barkley among those not impressed with Ham, not because he's not a good coach, but because of his age.
The Lakers’ age problem
Barkley thinks Darvin Ham’s age could affect how the Lakers perform next year. He shared his insights in an interview on the Dan Patrick Show.
“Well, I’m glad Darvin got an opportunity ’cause he’s paid his dues. He’s a nice guy. We’ll have to see what kind of coach he is. But listen, if one of your coaches is close to the same age as your players, your team not gonna be any good anyway.”
LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will be close to 40. Russell Westbrook will turn 34 next season. Ham is only 48 years old. Aside from devising a system that could cater to an aging roster, there could also be a problem with how a rookie head coach could demand accountability among future Hall-of-Famers. How would James, Anthony, Dwight Howard, or Westbrook respond to getting called out if they don’t run back on defense coming from a rookie head coach?
Here’s where Charles Barkley got it wrong
Darvin Ham wouldn’t get hired if LeBron James didn’t approve it. He even tweeted his support to the former player who got to play against him in his younger years. If we are to judge by recent examples, Ham’s age shouldn't be a problem.
Boston Celtics’ Ime Udoka is only 44, but he’s leading a young roster to their first NBA finals. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are not over 26 years old, which is in contrast to the aging lineup of the Lakers, but they proved they can adapt to the system of their rookie head coach. If it works for the Celtics, the Lakers shouldn’t have to worry. Instead, their challenge should be embracing the system and accepting their new roles in the team.
Ham’s communication skills will be tested. As a former NBA player, he’s someone who has had actual playing experience, and that could be a factor when he’s reaching out to the Lakers’ players. Darvin knows how a player’s mind thinks because he’s been on their side before. So we are in the crucial stage of the L.A. Lakers where Darvin Ham’s performance could determine what happens to the team in the next few years, including LeBron James’ future and his legacy.