Curious Case of Derek Fisher: 5-Time Champion’s Time Running Out
Laker fans were begging for an upgrade at the point guard position nearly every other day during his second go around with the Lakers from 2007 to 2012, blaming him every time an opposing superstar point guard, and there’s a lot of them, would explode for a huge game against LAL. And that was three, four years ago; considering a NBA player’s career is more aligned with a dog’s lifespan as opposed to how the rest of us age, three to four years changes a lot.
It’s like Scott Brooks reads all the negative comments directed at Fisher logging heavy minutes on various forms of social media and plays him exclusively to troll everyone. To Fisher’s credit, he’s been an ATM machine from the corner three and played very serviceable on-ball defense on James Harden to close out the first round against Houston.
Fisher’s career has always been defined by moments rather than excellence over 48 minutes. The irrevocable moments Fisher has gifted us with have masked his shortcomings by coming through when it matters most, when people remember it most. The 0.4 shot. The big three at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime in Game 4 of the 2009 finals. Just last week, he stripped Mike Conley to set up Kevin Durant hitting the game winner in Game 1 of the Memphis/OKC series.
However, the NBA is slowly shifting towards advanced analytics. From 29 of the 30 teams sending a representative to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference this past March to the Memphis Grizzlies hiring John Hollinger, ESPN’s stat guru, as their Vice President of Basketball Operations, I’m afraid analytics aren’t merely a fad but the future.
Side note: ironically the Lakers, Fisher’s longest employer, were the only team not present at the 2013 Sloan Conference. General Manager Mitch Kupchak has said he will send someone next year.
The one player that might affect the most is Fisher. Whenever Fisher would have a lackluster game statistically, Laker fans would defend him by saying he did things to contribute to the win that didn’t show up on the stat sheet. The intangibles that Fish brings to a team, buzz words such as leadership, hustle and veteran savvy, could all be rendered obsolete soon.
Once the NBA’s front-offices are all run by math wizards in the next five years or so, they could uncover that Fish might’ve ultimately been more of a detriment than a benefit to every team he’s been on, even in his younger and more productive years; something we’ve all suspected but never wanted to face the reality of.
For example: did you know Derek Fisher is the only player not to register a single point, assist or rebound in 30 or more minutes of play since 1985?
Fish has come through time after time on the plays that come up on the highlights reel, but in Game 4 he was on the wrong side of that for the first time in his career, seemingly (okay fine , second time, he was dunked on pretty hard by Corey Brewer a couple of years back). He threw up a couple air-balls as well as being responsible for the turnover that put Oklahoma City in a 3-1 hole that even the great Kevin Durant couldn’t dig them out of.
Knowing when to let go is the hardest part of professional sports.
As a player, you never want to the guy too old to be at the nightclub, metaphorically speaking.
As fans, we tend to romanticize the players we grew up with.
I used to be the biggest advocate of Derek Fisher two years ago. When he was traded to Houston, I didn’t want to talk to anyone for a whole day. Now my only wish is that now that his season with the Thunder is over, he signs a one-day contract with the Lakers to retire as one; just as Mike Modano did with the Dallas Stars.
His time as a hero is coming to an abrupt end, let’s hope he realizes that as well before becomes a ring-chasing villain that lingers well beyond his time.
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