Remember when Harvey Dent said in the Dark Knight “you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain?”
Well former Laker Derek Fisher has been dangerously tip-toeing that line since being unceremoniously dumped at the 2012 trade deadline for Jordan Hill and cap relief.
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Lakers Nation felt empathetic towards Fisher when he signed for Oklahoma City the first time around; he never asked to go from the declining Western Conference powerhouse, the Lakers, to the emerging powerhouse in the West, Oklahoma City. Though he did ask to be released from the Houston Rockets, whom the Lakers dealt him to.
Things always tend to work out for Derek Fisher.
Since being drafted by the Lakers in 1996 he was never an elite point guard in the NBA, heck he barely cracked the top 20, but with him at the point the Lakers won five championships.
From 2004 to 2007, Fisher had brief stints with the Golden State Warriors and the Utah Jazz, before returning to the Lakers to seek the best treatment possible to deal with his daughter’s rare eye illness. It just so happens the Lakers missed the playoffs in the 2004-05, the season after Fisher signed with the Warriors. His return to the Lakers in 2007 sparked the Purple and Gold to make the Finals in a losing effort to the Boston Celtics, although the acquisition of Pau Gasol and the development of Andrew Bynum probably had something to do with that as well.
Two championships later, Fisher cemented his legacy as one of most consistent role players to ever slip on a Laker uniform.
In 2012, Fisher rode the coattails of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to eliminate the team that traded him away three months earlier, as the Thunder defeated the Lakers in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
This season, he signed with the Dallas Mavericks at the end of November. Somehow Rick Carlisle, head coach of the Mavs, decided to start Fisher over the younger, and probably better, Darren Collison. The 38-year-old went down with a minor knee injury, and was granted a release from Dallas to receive treatment closer to his family.
Two months after that he signed with Thunder for the rest of the season, as they looked primed to run the gauntlet on the West again before Westbrook went down. With Westbrook’s injury, Fisher had found himself in a prominent role in Oklahoma City’s rotation once more.
So if you’re keeping track at home, Fisher’s been on four teams in the past two years. He has also asked to be released twice under dubious circumstances over his illustrious career (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on his first release with his daughter’s surgery), only to latch onto a title contender not too long after.
I still respect D-Fish, as he’s provided me with endless memories in a Laker uniform. But if you’re a fan of any other team in the league besides the Lakers of the Thunder, Fisher has progressively tainted his reputation with each ring-chasing expedition. Some might say he’s already a villain. Mark Cuban certainly does, when he urged the Dallas crowd to boo him when the Thunder visited the Mavericks in mid-March.
I’m less interested in the motives behind Fisher’s tour around the league over the past two years, and more interested in why he continues to remain relevant.
Next Page: Bouncing Around the League or Ring-Chasing?