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Charles Barkley Defends Darvin Ham and Frank Vogel Amidst Suns and Lakers Elimination

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Charles Barkley Defends Darvin Ham and Frank Vogel Amidst Suns and Lakers Elimination

The Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns succumbed to disappointing exits in the first round of the 2024 NBA playoffs. The Denver Nuggets eliminated the Lakers for the second year running with a 4-1 series win, while the Suns’ super team featuring Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal suffered a humiliating 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The onus of the failure of the star-studded rosters naturally fell on the coaches and per The Athletic’s NBA insider Shams Charania, Darvin Ham, and Frank Vogel are expected to be relieved of their duties soon. While both sets of fans are overjoyed, Hall of Famer Charles Barkley is far from pleased about the coaches taking the brunt of the blame for the Lakers and Suns’ underwhelming playoff runs. On Wednesday’s night episode of Inside the NBA, he said,

“A lot of these people on television are cowards. They want the players to like them. They don’t want to do their job, which is to tell the truth… Anybody who thinks the Lakers suck is because of Darvin Ham or the Suns suck because of Frank Vogel, you don’t know what you are talking about. Frank Vogel is a hell of a coach. Darvin Ham is a hell of a coach trying to get his career started. So for all you punks, idiots, and jacka**es on other networks who want to be in media, who want all the players to like them, do your damn job.”  

Barkley added that the people responsible for putting the Lakers and Suns’ “trash a**” rosters together should be getting the boot rather than the coaches.

Barkley makes valid points. The Lakers and Suns boast some of the league’s finest players, but the surrounding roster isn’t as fleshed out as some of the other teams in the league. Both teams are heavily dependent on their superstars to do the bulk of the work and carry their teams across the finish line.

However, absolving the coaches completely is incorrect. Anthony Davis was openly critical of Ham’s tactical prowess, while Charania’s report claimed Durant was less than impressed about his role in the Suns’ offensive gameplan. Both teams’ bitterly disappointing playoff runs were a collective failure, but as is always to case in any sport, the coach is always the scapegoat and oftentimes the only one losing their job.

Darvin Ham goes out swinging

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham hasn’t been relieved of his duties yet, but he’s likely aware that he’s on his way out of the door. The heavily scrutinized coach has often been called out for his passive demeanor with his hands in his pockets on the sidelines, but as his tenure comes to a close, he has gotten them out and is throwing jabs at the players. Following the Lakers’ Game 5 loss in Denver, he told reporters,

“The thing that frustrates me, and I love this job, I love the pressure that comes with it, I’ve always been calm in the midst of chaos… [But] common sense tends to go out the window when you talk about my job, in particular. It’s amazing how people just skip that core part of having a consistency with your lineup is all predicated on health and performance. If you’re coaching a team and one of your starters is like 10 games in a row, just s**ting the bed, what are you going to do?” 

With nothing to lose, Ham has decided to go out swinging and absolve himself of the issues that marred the Lakers this season. He’s unlikely to retain his job so he no longer bears the responsibility of protecting his players from criticism.

Post Edited By:Sameen Nawathe

About the author

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar


Jay Lokegaonkar is a basketball journalist who has been following the sports as a fan 2005. He has worked in a slew of roles covering the NBA, including writer, editor, content manager, social media manager, and head of content since 2018. However, his primary passion is writing about the NBA. Especially throwback stories about the league's iconic players and franchises. Revisiting incredible tales and bringing scarcely believable stories to readers are one his main interests as a writer.

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