He may have played for other teams, but Derek Fisher will always be remembered as a Laker.
All of the former Lakers’ jerseys hanging from the Staples Center rafters were worn by Hall of Fame players, but I hope the Lakers make an exception for Derek Fisher.
He helped contribute to five NBA championships, and is the only one who’s won the same five that Kobe Bryant has.
No, he’s never been the All-Star point guard that many had hoped for (and are still hoping for). And yes, he may have been a defensive liability for much of his career with the Lakers, and unable to penetrate defenses and allow Kobe or other players to get easy buckets.
At the same time, he performed for the Lakers when no one else at his position could.
He was the one who got it done when Nick Van Excel left.
When Gary Payton arrived, he took a back seat and played his position, even though he knew he could run the system better.
When he came back, he was met with open arms after the nightmare that was Smush Parker. More importantly, he came back a leader and helped the Lakers get it done again.
He and Kobe Bryant complemented each other perfectly, and together they got it done five times over.
Maybe that says something about playing with Kobe Bryant, that other point guards haven’t worked out when playing alongside him. At the same time, you’ve got to find the right talent to work with greatness, and there was nobody better suited to play alongside Kobe in the back court than Derek Fisher. Kobe had no more trust in any one player than Derek Fisher, and he’ll tell you he wouldn’t have rather had any other player playing alongside him in the back court than good ol’ Number Two for all those years.
Fans always wanted an All-Star point guard, but as a team with Fisher at the point, the Lakers were able to triumph in the playoffs over some of the most elite ones in the league:
Mike Bibby. Allen Iverson. Jason Kidd. Tony Parker. Deron Williams. Russell Westbrook. Steve Nash. Rajon Rondo. Chris Paul.
No, he rarely outplayed those guys one-on-one, and often didn’t even guard opposing point guards, but he played his role and somehow his team — one without an “elite” point guard — managed to triumph over those players in a playoff series.
Derek played 12 1/2 seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers, and will always bleed purple and gold, despite him now going on to coach the Knicks.
Fisher could’ve done anything after basketball (after all, he was President of the NBA Players’ Association), but he’s made the correct move in taking a position under Phil Jackson. In New York, he certainly lacks experience as a head coach, but will have the right guidance and the necessary support to allow him to succeed.
The same way he’s been an underdog his whole life, he is very much still one in his new position. The same way he’s been underestimated his whole career, he once again will be underestimated again.
If he approaches his new position the same way he approached basketball games, though, he’ll be just fine.
For now, it’s time to celebrate a great career by one of the most genuine people in the NBA.
Here’s to Derek Fisher: Leader. Legend. Laker for life.
Thanks for the memories!
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