By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer 

 New Lakers head coach Darvin Ham was introduced at a press conference this week at the teams training facility in El Segundo. Dressed in a dark suit. white shirt and a gold Laker tie the new man in town answered one of the biggest questions fans want to know. What about Russel Westbrook? 

“Don’t get it messed up Russell is one of the best players our league has ever seen,” said Ham. “There’s still a lot left in the tank. I don’t know why people continue to try to write him off.” 

Ham becomes the 28th head coach in franchise history and the 24th of the Los Angeles era. 

“Our players and fans will immediately identify with Darvin’s no-nonsense and hard-working approach, which we feel will bring toughness and a competitive edge to all we do,” said Lakers Vice President, Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka. 

Ham’s eight-year NBA playing career (1996-98, 1999-2005) included stints in Detroit, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Washington, Indiana and Denver. He was part of the 2004 championship team with the Pistons. 

His first coaching job came in 2008 as an assistant coach with the New Mexico Thunderbirds of the NBA Developmental League. He was appointed general manager and head coach of the team in 2010. In 2011 Ham was an assistant coach with the Lakers for two seasons before five seasons as an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks and his stop in Milwaukee where he was part of last year’s Championship team. 

He want’s to work more on the defensive side of the ball. “You hear about these offensive guru’s and these defensive guru’s, both sides can complement each other,” added Ham. 

“Defensively is where your going to see our biggest leaps and bounds.”