With the news of Derek Fisher officially accepting the head coaching position of the New York Knicks, that marks the end of the playing career of one of the most beloved Los Angeles Lakers of all-time.
Though Fisher was never a star player, he became a vital part of the Lakers championship teams of the 2000s, winning five championships under Phil Jackson and having numerous memorable moments along the way.
The Lakers are always remembered for their star players like Jerry West, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant, but if it weren’t for guys like Fisher, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott, and Robert Horry, the Lakers wouldn’t have as many championships as they have.
Fisher has always been revered amongst the Lakers Nation faithful for his ability to always step up in the big moments, so in this Lakers Nation roundtable special, we asked our experts to remember their favorite Derek Fisher moments. This is what they had to say:
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): Being my second favorite player (Kobe being #1), I’ve got so many fond memories of Derek Fisher and what he’s done for the Lakers.
However, I’m going to say the top moment for me is Fisher’s heroics in Game 4 of the 2009 NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic. The Lakers were down by three points, but Derek pulled up for a triple in transition to send the game into overtime. Then, he knocked down a dagger in OT to help seal the deal.
It’s my favorite moment because that season I would always wear my #2 jersey, and often times after a loss people who thought they knew the Lakers would say, “Man, Fish is too old. He needs to retire. He’s hurting the team,” to which I’d say, “You’ll see.”
When he came up big in that game, I just lost my mind and threw it back at anyone that I could remember who discounted what Fisher did for the Lakers on a daily basis.
My second favorite moment is Fisher’s big-time play in Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. With the series tied, Paul Pierce had said that the series wasn’t coming back to LA. Fish made sure to shut him up by scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter, most notably a layup over three Celtics, which resulted in a three-point play.
Fisher was emotional after the game, and it became emotional for many fans as well, as the Celtics had bested the Lakers in 2008. It was a critical game, and Fisher came through for the Lakers once again on the big stage.
Those are just two moments of a memorable Lakers career for Derek Fisher. Thanks for the good times, Fish!
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): For all of the clutch heroics that Derek Fisher provided throughout his storied career with the Lakers, my favorite moment has nothing to do with shooting.
The Lakers were in a fierce, physical battle with the Houston Rockets in the second round of the 2009 playoffs. Things were getting testy when Luis Scola performed a hard foul on Lamar Odom. When the ball went back the other way, Scola came up to set a screen on Fisher who saw it coming, sized Scola up, and delivered an absolutely crushing shoulder check to Scola.
The hit was as good as any safety the NFL could deliver and it set the tone that the Lakers would not be pushed around. It’s not often that the smallest person on the floor is the enforcer, but Fisher was exactly that for the Lakers.
Fisher proceeding to check his head in disbelief after cutting his head open on the play only added to the moment.
I will always love Fisher for everything that he gave to the Lakers in his career, but that moment of toughness will always stick out in my mind as my favorite Fisher moment.
Russell Valenzuela (@russval4): This might sound blasphemous at first, but my favorite Derek Fisher moment happens at a time he wasn’t helping the Lakers with clutch shooting. Back in the 2007 playoffs, Fisher played that role for the Utah Jazz.
The best part about the whole thing was seeing a whole other fan base rally behind Fisher just the way Laker fans have. Fisher had to miss the first game of a series against the Warriors while attending to his child’s surgery, but provided the much needed spark to guide the Jazz to a pivotal and emotional Game Two victory.
After spending the morning in New York City, Fisher took a plane and arrived in Salt Lake City sometime during the game. The Jazz were in need of a point guard as Deron Williams was in foul trouble and had players playing out of position to fill the void.
When he came to the arena and suited up to join the Jazz bench, the entire arena found themselves on the feet as Fisher entered the game right away. Just as he has done for the Lakers, Fisher set the emotional tone for Utah.
Playing with a heavy heart, Fisher laid it out on the floor and helped the Jazz send the game into overtime only to convert on a key three-pointer in extra session to help put the game away.
In the off-season, Fisher asked to get out of his contract so he could spend more time with his child. As a result, he rejoined the Lakers and helped lead the team to two more titles.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): My favorite Derek Fisher moment is about as typical as it gets. Nothing beats the game-winner with 0.4 seconds on the clock against the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs back in 2004.
I still remember exactly where I was when it happened. Just finished having dinner with my dad and his wife at a Tony Roma’s in Camarillo. We were sitting in the bar area and my eyes were glued to the television the entire time.
After Tim Duncan hit that ridiculous shot at the top of the key, everyone in the restaurant thought it was over, including my father. I wasn’t convinced or at least that’s what my inner fan was telling me.
My dad insisted on leaving. He said the game was over. No way they were hitting a shot with 0.4 seconds left. I told him I’d walk home. He lived miles away and I wasn’t familiar with the area, but I didn’t care.
Gary Payton inbounded the ball to a streaking Fisher and the rest is history with the ball swishing through the net. Fisher and the rest of the squad run off the floor as fast as possible and I’m screaming at the top of my lungs scaring the crap out of all the waitresses around me.
Classic! It doesn’t get better than that.