How Darvin Ham Stacks Up in Lakers' Coaching History

Ham lasted two seasons as the Lakers' head coach. Here's how his tenure compares to past head coaches.
Darvin Ham
Darvin Ham / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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The Los Angeles Lakers fired coach Darvin Ham on Friday. The decision comes three days after the franchise was eliminated in the first round of the 2024 NBA playoffs by the defending champion Denver Nuggets.

While it is no great shame to lose to Nikola Jokić and a very good Nuggets team, Ham was on the hot seat all season long due to some questionable coaching decisions, especially in regards to the starting lineup. Paired with the sky-high expectations that come with coaching a LeBron James-led outfit, the change is not entirely shocking.

The Lakers will now begin the search for the 29th head coach in franchise history. Before looking ahead, however, it is important to look back and contextualize Ham's tenure at the helm. How does he stack up to his counterparts throughout franchise history?

Lakers' Coaching History

With his dismissal on Friday, Ham will officially finish his Lakers career boasting a regular season record of 90–74. His 90 wins put him 14th all-time in franchise history, more than Mike D'Antoni but fewer than Joe Mullaney. The all-time leader in Lakers history is— you guessed it— Phil Jackson, who recorded 610 victories in his dominant years with the franchise.

Ham's 164 games coached from the bench puts him in a five-way tie for 10th in Lakers franchise history. The other coaches with 164 games exactly under their belt are the aforementioned Mullaney, Butch van Breda Kolff, Mike Dunleavy Sr., and Byron Scott. For fans of HBO's Winning Time, Paul Westhead is next on the list with 161 games coached. The all-time leader for the organization in this category is, once again, Jackson with 902 games coached.

In terms of winning percentage, Ham will finish his time in Los Angeles clocking in at .549. That ranks 19th all-time in Lakers history, ahead of Randy Pfund (.452) and behind Rudy Tomjanovich (.558). Technically speaking, the franchise leader in winning percentage is Bernie Bickerstaff, who went 4–1 back in 2013 and thus owns an even .800 winning percentage. However, among coaches with more than 10 games coached, Pat Riley leads with .733.

Ham's playoff record is not quite as flattering in the light of the giants who came before him, although he did avoid the ignominy of becoming the 11th coach in Lakers history to not coach a single playoff game. His 21 postseason appearances are good for 12th all-time, but his 9–12 record (a winning percentage of .429) slots him 13th. Jackson leads all Lakers coaches with 118 playoff wins but Riley won at a better clip, posting a winning percentage of .685 during his tenure.

As the numbers suggest, Ham had a fine run as head coach of the Lakers. It was not drenched in glory but it also wasn't drenched in failure. A decidedly average tenure, and one that came to an end on Friday.


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Liam McKeone

LIAM MCKEONE

Liam McKeone is a Senior Writer for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. In addition to his role as a writer, he collaborates with other teams across Minute Media to help define his team’s content strategy. He has been in the industry as a content creator since 2017, and prior to joining SI in 2024, Liam worked for NBC Sports Boston and The Big Lead. In addition to his work as a writer, he has hosted the Press Pass Podcast covering sports media and The Big Stream covering pop culture. A graduate of Fordham University, Liam is always up for a good debate and enjoys loudly arguing about sports, rap music, books, and video games. Liam has been a member of the National Sports Media Association (NSMA) since 2020.