Even though it was only a preseason game, the Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham’s decision to finally bring Russell Westbrook off the bench certainly generated headlines. This intriguing story was only fueled by Russ’ own admission that his hamstring injury may have been partly triggered by the fact that he entered the game off the bench for the first time in his career.
On Thursday, Ham addressed the topic that was being avoided. The Lakers shot-caller was quick to dismiss any suggestions that he had anything to do with Russ’ injury when asked about Westbrook’s remarks (h/t Mark Medina of NBA.com on Twitter):
“First and foremost, let me be clear on this. The Lakers, myself, my staff, we in no way shape and form would put anybody, a player, an employee, in harm’s way,” Ham stated. “Be it mentally, physically, spiritually. We don’t stand for that. We’re not about that. That’s not who we are.”
Coach Ham continued by stating that he had already spoken with Westbrook about this matter and that it has since been resolved:
“Second of all, Russ and I discussed what was out there,” Ham said. “Brief discussion. We moved on. We got an understanding, and again, as the coach of this team, my staff and I, we’re gonna do what’s best for our team to be as successful as we can be. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Darvin Ham said he talked with Russell Westbrook after he said his bench role absolutely contributed to his injury. Ham defended the Lakers and their medical staff pic.twitter.com/EZGn72QH9Z
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 21, 2022
It was understandable that Ham didn’t seem too happy about having to answer these questions. However, as soon as Westbrook made his contentious declaration, everyone knew this was going to be one of the key themes for the Lakers.
Darvin Ham did not make it clear, though, whether Westbrook will in fact leave the starting lineup going forward. In the Lakers’ season-opening game against the Golden State Warriors, the former league MVP received the starting nod, but it is unclear if Westbrook will hold the position for the remainder of the season.
Darvin Ham’s cryptic response to Lakers star Russell Westbrook’s controversial bench remarks first published on ClutchPoints.