LAKERS RETOOLING

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Darvin Ham, an assistant coach for 12 years, will now lead the Los Angeles Lakers. Screenshot

Lakers tab Darvin Ham new head coach

LOS ANGELES (CNS)—The Los Angeles Lakers have found a new head coach, with the team today reaching a deal to hire Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham.


ESPN first reported the hire, which was subsequently confirmed through sources by the Los Angeles Times. Although the team did not immediately respond to a request for comment, star LeBron James confirmed the news on Twitter, writing, "So damn EXCITED!!!!!!! Congrats and welcome Coach DHam!!"


Ham, 48, played college ball at Texas Tech and spent 12 years as a pro, including stints with the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, Bucks, Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets. He has been an NBA assistant coach for more than a decade, including a 2011-13 stint with the Lakers.


He was also an assistant for the Atlanta Hawks before joining the Bucks coaching staff in 2018.


The Lakers in April fired head coach Frank Vogel following two straight disappointing seasons on the heels of the team's championship in the pandemic-abbreviated 2019-20 season.


In the 2020-21 season, the team finished 42-30 and was ousted from the playoffs in the first round. In the 2021-22 season, with James and Anthony Davis both battling injuries, the Lakers missed the postseason. Vogel compiled a 127-98 record during his time with the team.

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Los Angeles Clippers artist rendering

Sportswriter At-large

 

Intuit Dome: ‘A basketball palazzo’ cometh destined for Inglewood

First up. At the outset of the 2021-22 season of the National Football League, it’s only fitting to report the great Jim Brown, formerly of Syracuse University and the NFL Cleveland Browns, was enshrined with a bronze statue Sept. 4, outside of Brown Stadium… After each home game at SoFi Stadium during the 2021 NFL season, Los Angeles Rams Tackle and team captain Andrew Whitworth will make a $20,000 donation to help repair homes in his home state of Louisiana and move Angelenos facing housing insecurity into homes as part of his “Big Whit Homes for LA Families” program, Now that’s benevolence.

Now to the biggest news of the week involving Inglewood, Calif. Groundbreaking finally occurred on the $1.8 billion Intuit Dome arena, the future home of the Los Angeles Clippers at the corner of South Prairie Avenue and West Century Boulevard.

Superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joined owner Steve Ballmer in the ground breaking on Friday, Sept. 17, thrusting chrome-tipped shovels into a ceremonial make-shift box of soil where the 18,000-seat arena will be built. The architectural design will seat fans closer to the court and Steve Ballmer, owner and Clippers No. 1 fan excitedly described some of the distinguishing hallmarks the forthcoming arena will offer. Ballmer promised state-of-the-art technology featuring a two-sided oval scoreboard with 44,000 square feet of LED lights, about 37,000 than most current NBA scoreboards.

 

“I like to think about the Dome as a basketball palazzo—homage to the game of basketball,” Ballmer said. “It’s not the Hall of Fame, but with as many championships as we’re going to win here, it’ll be better than the Hall of Fame.” 

Ballmer expressed glee that upon completion, the Intuit Dome will offer the Clippers and the organization an arena of their own. The ceremony had the air of a pep rally with special guests in attendance from local and state officials, players and team executives, to specially-selected fans. The energy that resonated was the LA Clippers’ eagerness to create its own brand and space away from Staples Center and the co-tenant arrangement with the Lakers, Kings, and Sparks. The entire Clippers business operations will be housed beneath a solar-panel-clad roof.

“If you share a building with not one, but two teams, it’s a very difficult task, it really is,” said Jerry West, the former Lakers great, NBA Hall-of-Famer, and consultant to Ballmer and Clippers executives since 2017. “For the players, when they go to the Intuit Dome, they know this building is dedicated to them.”

“It will be a fresh start in a new arena that [will be] Home Sweet Home,” Ballmer said.

 

Ballmer purchased the team in 2014, initially planning to remain downtown LA long-term, but within a year the Clippers organization was scouting locations spurred by a need to distinguish the team’s identity. In 2016 Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts and Ballmer met at the Marina-Del-Rey Ritz-Carlton to discuss a basketball arena whose construction is only now beginning after years of costly legal wrangling. The Clippers did not take
possession of the final parcels of land for the complex until summer this year after the City acquired the remaining land through eminent domain. 

 

Ballmer recounted the months of jousting back and forth and said with a chuckle— “Mayor Butts, boy," he sighed, "we’ve been through it.” 

 

Now, just three years remains to deliver “the singular best place for fans and players throughout the World,” Ballmer said. By the way, the roof of the Dome will be emblazoned with the brand Intuit, the Silicon Valley-based software
company best known for Turbo Tax, whose licensing agreement is 23 years for an undisclosed sum.

   

Ballmer shared a host of digital technology firsts for a sports arena, including a 4700-seat section behind the opposing team bench, dubbed “The Wall” reaching 51 rows high on a steep slope. It will be akin to Fenway Park’s left-field “Wall,” and Duke University’s student section. Ballmer said the team will have a contingency plan in case of delays but was confident the organization will move in on time to allow customers to secure and watch games from “courtside cabanas” modeled after field-level suites in the NFL.

Fans will be able to make purchases from “smart” concession stands that will charge customers automatically without long checkout lines or a wallet, “technology willing,” said Gillian Zucker, business operations manager.

Five basketball courts will adorn the complex with two for community use.

“I feel a little bit like a kid on Christmas,” Ballmer said. “You see that big present sitting there—you know it’s not time to open it yet, so what do you start doing?  Well, I want to rip the paper; you look inside. The only problem we
have right now is, it’s three years before we get a chance to open the damn thing!”

Got to love the man. He’s real! 

Ballmer reiterated that he will contribute 80 million dollars toward affordable housing in the city. But you can never please everyone. Prior to the ceremony, roughly a dozen protesters appeared on Prairie Avenue displaying signs criticizing the looming construction and its potential impact on local residents.