The post-playing career of five-time champion Derek Fisher has certainly been filled with controversy and drama. The former Los Angeles Lakers point guard turned into one of the most respected basketball minds at the end of his playing career, which translated into an immediate coaching position with the New York Knicks.
Hall of Famer Phil Jackson signed Fisher, as he was thought of as the coach of the future that can help relate the triangle offense to his players. While Jackson was eagerly hoping Steve Kerr would join the Knicks, Fisher was a great consolation prize, as one of the few remaining players in the NBA that flourished under the astounded offensive scheme.
Alas, Fisher’s tenure with the Knicks lasted for about a season and a half, as Jackson promptly fired him upon a ton of scrutiny. Many have questioned Jackson’s standing with the Knicks, as the beloved franchise has not returned to their past glory.
Fisher then hit another difficult stride when joining a relationship with Gloria Govan, who was fresh off a divorce with former teammate Matt Barnes. Barnes and Govan have two children together, but that didn’t stop her from forming the relationship with Fisher. The Arkansas native’s reputation took a huge hit around the NBA, as many questioned the “bro-code” between those two.
The 18-year veteran now has an analyst role with Spectrum SportsNet, putting him back in the favor of the franchise that he earned five titles with. Head coach Luke Walton, who spent six seasons with Fisher, was asked about his relationship and stated that he has nothing but respect for his friend and former teammate, via Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:
Current Lakers head coach Luke Walton played with Fisher on the Lakers in 2003-04 and again from 2007 to 2012, winning NBA championships in ’09 and ’10. He understands the backlash over Fisher and Govan in league circles. “I get it, for sure,” Walton says. “I don’t feel that way about him, personally.
“Obviously, I understand if other people do. But we’ve been through a lot together, and he’s been great to me since I was a rookie in this league. I’m not at a point where I would turn my back on him or say I can’t trust him. My personal experience with it is that I still consider Fish a very good friend and hope things work out for him.”
Walton is clearly one of those who understands the complicated situation, choosing to talk about the character of Fisher, rather than the negative situation. The perception regarding Fisher’s dilemma seems to have formed a split between those around the league, as some favor his side, while others favor Barnes.
The 42-year-old stated that he understands why his perception would change by some, but he also stated that he is drastically opposed to the landscape of the media in the NBA and how their opinions, sometimes false and fabricated, can lead to so much inner turmoil.
Fisher clearly has a future in basketball, as a noted mind that has shown on countless times his understanding of the rigors of the NBA. Although the point guard stated an honest frustration over his firing with the Knicks, he still understands the business side of the league and the desire for success in New York.
With the 21-28 Knicks struggling immensely under new head coach Jeff Hornacek, it brings up the question of whether or not Fisher deserved to be fired. At the time of his release, the Knicks were 22-22, with a lot less talent and a less developed Kristaps Porzingis.
As the Knicks continue to struggle, it only may make more of a case why Fisher should be given another opportunity around the NBA, while the situation regarding his current girlfriend and former teammate continues to die down.