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Darvin Ham unplugged on #thisleague UNCUT
A new summer league experience for the seasoned scribe: We interviewed the Lakers' coach in Las Vegas in a live podcast session at Caesars Palace and savored every bit of his frankness
(Publisher’s note: It was still Tuesday night in Sin City when this story posted!)
LAS VEGAS — During our live episode of the #thisleague UNCUT podcast Tuesday with Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham at the iconic Caesars Palace, I listed the teams that, according to my unofficial count, had interviewed Ham without offering him their head coaching job.
All nine of them.
My list featured the Celtics, Hornets, Bulls, Pacers, Timberwolves, Magic, Kings, Wizards and Clippers.
"And Hawks," Ham interjected.
Then he added in reference to all 10: "They f----- up royally."
That was merely the most pointed example of the candor spilling out of Ham on a number of subjects that we discussed during his hourlong visit with Turner Sports' Chris Haynes and me.
We had to make it a two-part episode to properly spotlight everything we covered. From last season's slow start and how the Lakers rebounded ... to the ins and outs of coaching both Russell Westbrook and LeBron James ... to the coming-soon Part 2 highlights which include Ham's bold claims about Austin Reaves' ceiling and his response to the title-winning Denver Nuggets’ championship parade reference to Mike Malone as “the Lakers’ daddy” — it’s all there.
It was a momentous occasion because it was the first time in our nearly six-months-old show that Chris and I were in the same place to record side-by-side. Fresno and Fullerton were truly back together at last.
To generate such a frank interview with Ham at the same time made it a show we will never forget.
The experience was also marked by a surreal sidebar: Caesars was the scene of police activity for several hours on both sides of our show because of what police later described to reporters as an "hourslong standoff” and the eventual release of a hostage. There was no trace of the tension where we were stationed for the podcast, but the situation did lead NBA Security to issue texted and e-mailed warnings Tuesday to various summer league attendees to avoid the area "due to police activity" before an arrest was made.
Here’s the link to Part 1 of the podcast which dropped Tuesday night:
Our trusty producer Ryan Musick says Part 2 will be released Thursday. As always you can rate, review and subscribe to the show here so it comes directly to your listening device:
Hearty thanks to kind subscriber Jared Katz for taking these photos as a show attendee and allowing me to share them with you:
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The Stein Line Seal of Approval
I did plenty of get-off-my-lawn shouting in the Monday Musings about the new NBA Cup in-season tournament and my various complaints about the Year 1 format.
Now for some kind words from the curmudgeonly scribe about a league event that I witnessed the other day.
I wasn't there long Sunday, but the brief glimpse I got of the league's maiden NBA Con setup at Mandalay Bay on the opening weekend of summer league play in Las Vegas hooked me.
I arrived early Sunday morning for some meetings and took a tour of the floor to check out various booths before they were open. The scene was summed up neatly by my former New York Times teammate Sopan Deb as “a three-day smorgasbord of fashion, music and basketball.”
I resisted the urge to try to sneak in a stealth snap of the Phoenix Suns’ summer league practice taking place while I was lurking nearby. Pictures of my favorite booths that I did feel safe in sharing are below thanks to our photo department, including two separate NBA Jam displays (story on my history with the game enclosed) and an NBA-branded pickleball court that had me eager to bust out a paddle.
(That department, of course, essentially consists of my 16-year-old, who assembled the collage I don't know how to make.)
PS — I’m already hearing that it’s a safe bet that NBA Con will be back in Vegas in December when the league’s in-season tournament semifinals and title game are contested back here Dec. 7-9.
With the help of my dear friend Ben Hoffman, for years among the pillars of the sports desk at The New York Times, I learned that I racked up 443 career bylines during my 3 1/2 years writing for the NYT from October 2017 through July 1, 2021. The Times' sports department was officially disbanded Monday and, after 36-plus hours to digest it, I still feel sickened and so saddened for my 30-plus colleagues who have been so suddenly displaced. My Substacking colleague Mark Whicker, for years a must-read columnist for The Orange County Register and from whom I voraciously studied as a collegian writing there, put it aptly in this piece: "The Times never was the best sports section in the country ... But it had authority."
San Antonio’s Victor Wembanyama wound up logging 54 minutes in his two summer league games.
Wembanyama averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 assists and 4.0 blocks per game during his brief Las Vegas stint after a 2-for-13 stinker in his debut against Charlotte.
Including that rough first outing, Wembanyama shot 40.7% from the floor, 30.0% on 3-pointers and 68.8% from the free throw line in Vegas.
Good one from my longtime friend and colleague Marc J. Spears: Bradley Beal left the Wizards needing just 161 points to pass Elvin Hayes (15,551) for the all-time franchise lead in regular season scoring.
New Warriors signee Dario Šarić, who is listed at 6-foot-10, is the tallest player projected to be on Golden State’s roster next season barring any further signings in free agency.
Based on listed heights with Basketball Reference, Golden State players taller than 6-9 logged zero minutes in last season’s playoffs — with 6-10 Nemanja Bjelica ranking as the only Warrior as tall as Šarić who played during the 2022 title run. 7-footer James Wiseman never logged a postseason minute for Golden State.
Readers in the Dallas area — or those who want to listen online — can catch me live for an hour on Saturdays talking NBA on 97.1 The Freak. Saturday Sportsworld debuted on July 1 and can now be found via both Apple Podcasts and Spotify:
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