While driving on his way home from a recent practice, Milwaukee Bucks forward Darvin Ham
passed a construction site and began to reflect on his now stable career in the NBA.
Darvin Ham has welcomed the hardhat role with the Bucks.
Layne Murdoch/NBAE Photos
"There are guys out there breaking their backs to make sure we have nice roads to ride on," he said, "and here I am getting the opportunity to play one of the greatest games in the world and be productive at it."
The irony here is that by his own description, Ham is one of the NBA's resident hard-hat wearers, filling a role with the Bucks by assuring the lanes to the basket are smoother to navigate for the likes of Sam Cassell
, Glenn Robinson
and Ray Allen
Ham relishes taking the blue-collar approach to basketball. Having been humbled by the game several times since going undrafted in 1996, every day he steps on an NBA floor is a good day.
"A lot of guys take this stuff for granted," said Ham, who spent time in the Spanish League in addition to playing with four NBA teams. "But I think about it every day. I've been through some tough times in my life, so everything I get in this game is a blessing."
Ham signed his first guaranteed contract over the summer. He had finally gotten his big break, having shown his worth to the Bucks as a tough-minded rebounder and defender content with doing the little things. Then came a break of a different sort; three games into the season, he broke his left foot, which forced him to miss 53 games.
"It was horrible," Ham said of the injury. "The first month or so, I went through a lot of mental conditioning. Coming into this year, I had great expectations for the team and myself, and to go down in the third game was really disheartening."
He returned to a warm ovation from the Milwaukee crowd upon his return on March 1, and has resumed his unsung hero role on a Bucks team that stands atop the Central Division and has designs on venturing further into the playoffs this year.
"Every minute I'm out there, I try to make it worthwhile," Ham said. "A lot of things I do for this team doesn't show up in the stat sheet. We have some really talented individual players and what I try to do is try to implement the team concept. I'm going to go out there, set screens, dive on the floor, do whatever it takes to win."
Rob Reheuser is a member of the NBA Editorial Staff.