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February 15, 2019

Darvin Ham

Charlotte, North Carolina - Rising Stars

Q. Coach, obviously, halfway through the first season in Milwaukee, and you get tonight to coach with the rest of the assistants. Have you had a chance at all to reflect on the first half of the season, I guess, and how well things have gone coming to the new team?
DARVIN HAM: Not really. We choose not to. We're afraid to. We just want to keep it rolling, man. It's good to take a break. Coach Bud (Mike Budenholzer) is great about encouraging us to have fun in this environment. It's very special. Any time you get a chance to participate in the NBA All-Star Weekend, I think it's awesome. It's something you'll remember for years and years to come.

But as far as us and what we're doing and the business we're taking care of with our own home team, our personal team, we just kind of go through the daily process of keeping our head down and making incremental steps toward our goal, what we want to do later on in the season.

Q. And you mentioned the word "fun", but that's a word that all the players like constantly use when you ask them about this year and how much they're enjoying it. What is it about Bud, I guess, that encourages that aspect of guys' play when they're playing?
DARVIN HAM: I think he's an all-inclusive coach. By that I mean, with the staff particularly, he allows us to coach. He allows us to come up with ideas, and he actually puts them into the program. A lot of things that I've contributed -- Taylor Jenkins, Charles Lee, Ben Sullivan, Patrick St. Andrews -- the list goes on, Josh Longstaff, Vin Baker. Things that we suggest and things that we talk about when we meet as a staff on a daily basis are implemented into the program, and the carryover goes on to the players. They see how united we are as a group, as a staff, and I think that gives them confidence that everybody is on the same page, on the same message.

He also sits and spends one-on-one time with Giannis and Khris and all the other guys in the starting five as well as guys coming off our bench. He's constantly looking for feedback, be it positive or negative, to help us come up with the solution to help us be successful.

Q. Coach, in a game like this, when does the competitiveness start kicking in? How much do you balance fun and trying to win a game?
DARVIN HAM: You'll see it kick in around the end of the third quarter, going into the fourth. A lot of these guys grew up playing against each other. There's a lot of old beefs from the AAU circuit and some old beefs just from Summer League even. A lot of these guys are new to the league, but, yeah, later on, in the later stages of the game, going into a game like this, you want these guys to compete. You want to make it palatable for the fans to watch. You don't want to see a whole bunch of dunks and three-pointers, nobody playing defense, nobody hustling or whatever.

So I encouraged them to play with a lot of pace, share the ball, move the ball around, and try to take pride in guarding your man individually. With all that said, I'm happy everyone had a great night, had a great game, and came away healthy.

Q. I'm a native of Michigan. We cover the Utah Jazz. We had Donovan Mitchell playing out there tonight. Out in Utah, Coach Snyder says a lot of great things about you. Do you see him as one of the top coaches in the league?
DARVIN HAM: Exactly. Quin and I go back around 11 years, right when I was transitioning from the playing court to being a coach. I got an opportunity to play in the D-League, when it was known as the D-League, championship with Coach Snyder with the Austin Toros in the 2007-2008 season. We actually lost 2-1 in the championship.

Again, he allowed my input. He knew I was a veteran player on my way out and wanted to transition to coaching. He would ask for my input. Roy Rogers was his assistant coach back then. Quin and I forged a great bond, and later on we went to work with the Los Angeles Lakers together under Mike Brown. And the following year he left and went to Russia with Ettore Messina, and we reconnected in Atlanta under Coach Bud.

We constantly stayed in contact. I consider him a great brother, a great friend, a great mentor in his coaching game. I hope he's not mad at me because I played Donovan a lot of minutes.

But Quin has been awesome, man. I think, definitely, he's one of the premier up-and-coming coaches, along with the guy I work for. I think Quin Snyder, Mike Budenholzers, your Fizdales, your Terry Stotts and those guys, I think there's some great basketball minds -- all the way, I don't want to name names. You tend to leave people out. Our league is full of great coaching, but those guys in particular right there at the forefront.

Q. Coach, you were with Atlanta last year when they drafted John Collins, and tonight you got to coach him. What was it like seeing him grow as a player, and what do you think of his growth?
DARVIN HAM: It's been great, man. I think John has a lot. The sky is the limit for John. He has a lot to offer. He's ripped. Really, really ball skilled. He has a knack for -- something you can't teach. He has like a nose for the ball. He's always in the right spot at the right time. So he gets his hands on a lot of rebounds. He's able to get a lot of finishes. He's athletic. Really good balance and agility and good hands.

And he's just basically going off of raw instinct and raw talent. I know Lloyd Pierce is a great -- another great basketball mind in our league, and I know him and his staff, they're going to continue to nurture John, and they're going to be off the charts. They have some really good young players in Atlanta, and I'm looking forward to those guys developing and being a force to be reckoned with at some point.

Q. Hey, Coach. D-Ham.
DARVIN HAM: I owe you two elbows (laughing).

Q. At least two. I want to take you back, you mentioned having fun and the players having fun. Do you ever take them back to 1996, NCAA Tournament, when you were having fun breaking backboards? And if you do, is there anybody on the team that you feel like is capable of bringing down the whole basket?
DARVIN HAM: I'm expecting to see that out of Giannis at some point. No, they find out about it on their own. They come to me with YouTube clips and all that.

I'm modest, man. You know how we were, JYD, we got it out the mud, man. All these other guys, the Vince Carters I played with and the Ray Allens I played with, they got to be pretty all the time, but we had to mix it up and get dirty.

Q. Had to mix it up.
DARVIN HAM: Yes, sir. My playing career, I'm proud of it. I'm thankful I got to spend the time I did in the league, but I don't go through the nostalgia moments as much. I'm trying to own this craft of coaching, and hopefully they listen to me. Three words I never say, "when I played".

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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