Essay: The Ever-Polarizing Derek Fisher
With Derek Fisher, you can’t have it both ways. You either think he’s a coattail clinging caddie who hit a few big shots (the most famous of them being illegal if it were to happen today), played with some of the greatest players to ever live, and made existing in the NBA look much easier than it actually is, or you respect the shit out of his work ethic, the steady stream of ice that’s run through his veins for well over a decade, and the way he’ll do absolutely anything to win a basketball game.
Almost all of these opinions are shaped by geographic location. If you’re from Los Angeles, chances are D-Fish is your homie. If you’re from just about anywhere else in the world, you think he’s a flopping freeloader who spent the last three years openly mocking the point guard position.
When first hearing about the trade to Houston, did you think this was the end? Or did you assume a contender would gladly welcome him aboard, and use another set of educated eyes to help steer the ship? Personally, I thought this was it, and had it not been for Eric Maynor’s torn ACL, it probably would’ve been.
Last week, in reference to the plastic mask he’s worn since breaking his nose during All-Star weekend, Kobe Bryant referred to himself as the “black Mike Myers.” A tribute to the super silent mass murderer whose hobbies include stabbing total strangers and moving slow on foggy nights. The comment was valid in that like Myers, Kobe keeps coming and coming. There’s nothing you can do to stop him. This is how I feel about Derek Fisher, except he scares me in no way, shape, or form. There’s absolutely no doubting the fact that right now, there’s someone out there who’s younger, more athletic, and better at basketball than Derek Fisher not playing in the NBA. Instead of finding this person, the Thunder weighed youth and athleticism against experience and knowledge (you think if OKC meets the Lakers in a playoff series that Fisher’s value will come with his on-court play, or the strategic input he can offer the Thunder’s coaching staff?) and the wily veteran won again.
Derek Fisher took three shots in Wednesday night’s win over the Clippers. His sole make was a wide open three-pointer from the corner, which, at 37-years-old, is the entire extent of his offensive repertoire. In 19 minutes of action he spent his time either bringing the ball up the court and passing to someone on the wing then darting to the opposite corner, or simply spacing the floor while James Harden did his best Mozart impression with a masterful pick and roll. This will be what Fisher does throughout his tenure with Oklahoma City—occasionally initiating offense, always spacing the floor, doing his best on defense to disengage the blatant similarities he shares with your typical summer screen door. The bottom line here is that no matter what you think of Derek Fisher, he’s somehow managed to position himself on an even better basketball team than the one that wanted nothing to do with him. It just might be the most impressive thing he’s ever done.