Milwaukee Bucks: Darvin Ham was a slam dunking sensation


Logging many stints during his eight-year NBA career, Darvin Ham’s few seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks coincided with the team’s high points during the early-2000s.

The “Light It Up” era still holds a special significance in the collective hearts and minds of Milwaukee Bucks fans.

Saying this certainly isn’t a leap by any stretch of the imagination, as it still remains the team’s most recent successful span and a touchstone for which all Bucks teams are still compared to this day.

The faces of the franchise during that time are all incredibly well known right up to this day, between the stardom of Ray Allen, the scoring brilliance of Glenn Robinson and the confident floor general in Sam Cassell, whose arrival jumpstarted the team’s run during this time (at least on the roster side of things).

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While Allen, Robinson and Cassell regularly received the lion’s share of credit for the team’s success, then and in the years since, there were other vital elements that helped make the team’s rapid rise what it was.

Ranging from veteran contributors like Ervin Johnson and Scott Williams to a promising, rangy forward and Sixth Man of the Year candidate in Tim Thomas, the Bucks had a great balance within their roster that brought out the best in the team under then-head coach George Karl.

On this occasion, however, it’s time to shine a light on another figure, one who was capable of bringing people to their feet in his own right at a single moment’s notice. Throughout his eight-year NBA career, Darvin Ham logged many stops around the league after going undrafted in the 1996 NBA Draft.

But it was in Milwaukee where Ham had the nearest thing to an NBA home as he spent three seasons with the Bucks, starting in the 1999-2000 season and ending after the 2001-02 season.

Upon joining the Bucks, Ham quickly showcased his well earned reputation by regularly displaying eye catching, jaw dropping and yes, even backboard breaking slam dunks.

For anyone growing up during this time, this made Ham an incredibly magnetic figure and a player you couldn’t take your eyes off of. If you did, you might just miss a highlight you’d regret missing, whether in person at the Bradley Center or watching a game at home.

Not only did Ham want to dunk everything in sight, he held no regard for anyone who stood in his way. This reckless abandon Ham exuded practically permeated throughout his entire game, for better and for worse.

Giving his team a shot in the arm and doing the dirty work was Ham’s style of play through and through and with that, he quickly followed in the footsteps of former fan favorites who brought a similar set of workman-like qualities to the court.

Although his three seasons wound up being his longest stint with an NBA team, Ham’s time with the Bucks might come second, in terms of the other stays he experienced over his career.

After all, Ham went on to earn greater glory during his time with his hometown team, the Detroit Pistons, in the 2003-04 season when they effectively put the final nail in the Los Angeles Lakers’ dynasty. Of course, that doesn’t take away what he accomplished in Milwaukee and the fact that nearly half of his career minutes played came during his time with the Bucks.

What makes Ham an even more unique player to look back at is that it’s tough to say whether a player of his caliber and style could legitimately carve out a place in today’s NBA.

Even as this era of Bucks teams had the offensive qualities that we see all throughout the league now, Ham wasn’t a prominent contributor in that regard. For example, Ham only attempted 16 three-pointers throughout his entire career, making just four of them (and as Alex Boeder of noted here, half of Ham’s four made three-pointers were successful half court heaves).

Some of that is obviously a product of the era that he played in, but it just goes to show that even possessing an incredible amount of athleticism like Ham had might not have cut it had he come up as a player in this day and age, without a few more skills in his repertoire.

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While former and current Bucks players like Desmond Mason, Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo have each taken the baton and raised the dunk game to another level in Milwaukee, Ham certainly set a standard on his own, for which we can still look back fondly on many years later.