Reality is a cruel mistress. For the past couple seasons, every Laker fan has come to accept the fact that Derek Fisher is a liability starting at point guard. Fisher is one of the worst, if not the worst, point guards in the league statistically with career lows across the board, opposing point guards torch him on a nightly basis as his foot speed has diminished and some teams don’t even play him anymore on the offensive end.
Yet Lakers Nation stuck with Fisher through thick and thin.
We always hoped for Fisher to be relegated to a lesser role but never expected it happen. We expect Derek Fisher to start at point guard, akin to how we expect the sun to rise and fall every day. I mean, the President of the players’ association became the leader in consecutive games played two years ago when he eclipsed Andre Miller’s previous mark of 632 games, and he still hasn’t missed a game since. It appeared as if Fisher would continue to be an instrumental part of the Lakers until retirement forced him not to be. Or so we thought.
The season of Laker basketball has been littered with bizarre twists and turns: the Chris Paul trade was vetoed by the league, then Lamar Odom was traded for a draft pick, but nothing compares to how shocking the trading of Derek Fisher is.
No words can describe how initially shocked I was when numerous sources on Twitter were beginning to confirm Fisher’s move to Houston. Not to sound over-dramatic, but it was like hearing my older brother was moving out for college.
I’ve grown up on the backcourt of Fisher and Kobe Bryant, and seeing one of the two gone will take awhile to get used to. It happened once in the summer of 2004, when Fisher left the Lakers as he was disgruntled with playing behind Gary Payton. But he returned a couple years later to Los Angeles in order to seek the best medical treatment available for his daughter, Tatum’s, rare eye disease. Before he left, he brought the team three championships in the Shaq-Kobe era, and he led us to two more rings in the Kobe-Pau era.
This time around, it looks like its goodbye for good as Fisher is shipped off to Houston along with a draft pick for Jordan Hill. The only conceivable way I could see Fisher returning is if the Rockets waive him and the Lakers are able to pick him up via free agency, just as the Spurs did with Bruce Bowen in 2009. But that’s also a long-shot as the writing was on the wall for the 37-year-old once the Ramon Sessions deal became official earlier in the day.
I don’t think it’s farfetched to suggest Derek Fisher is the greatest role player in Laker history. The bulldog from Little Rock Arkansas never took a night off (literally and figuratively). In his younger days, he was a defensive pest. But even as he aged, one attribute never left him: his penchant for hitting big shots.
The number of times Fisher’s clutch shot-making has rescued the Lakers reads like a mother’s grocery list. The famous 0.4 shot with Ginobili draped all over him, the pull-three he hit in Jameer Nelson’s face to send Game 4 into overtime, and the 11-point fourth quarter outburst he had against the Celtics in the 2010 Finals are just the most memorable of the batch.
More recently, he hit the three that buried the Mavericks in Lamar Odom’s return to the Staples Center, and even Wednesday night in New Orleans he sank a jumper just inside the three-point line to put the Lakers up one in overtime before Metta World Peace sealed the game with his timely steal.
These are the moments we’ll remember Derek for most. Whenever one of my friends watches Lakers games with me he always jokes that D-Fish isn’t even concerned with his performance in the first three quarters as he’s too busy plotting out his shots for when the game’s on the line.
There’s no doubt Derek Fisher leaves as one of the most popular Lakers of all-time despite his subpar play as of late. I had really hoped Fisher was going to retire a Laker, but instead he was traded for cost-cutting reasons.
I suppose Fisher’s premature departure officially ushers in a new era of Laker basketball; one that attempts to be economical and a winner simultaneously.
Change is one of the hardest things to accept in life, may that be in our personal lives, our professional lives or in the teams we’re emotionally invested in. But without change, there would never be any progress or improvement.
While Fisher is now gone, Ramon Sessions will be starting for the Lakers the next time they take the floor. As hard as it might to be admit at this stage of nostalgic reflection, Sessions replacing Fisher is a logical basketball move in every sense.
I’m not sure exactly how much Sessions will help the Lakers. One thing that I am sure of is I now have much more confidence in the Lakers when they have to face Oklahoma City or the Clippers in the playoffs with Sessions manning the helm as opposed to Fisher.
At the end of the day the NBA is a business. And as the consummate professional that Derek Fisher was, is, and forever will be, I’m sure he out of all people would understand why the move had to be made.
Speaking on behalf of every Laker fan in the world, we love you Derek and we wish you the best in all your future endeavors.
Derek Fisher will remain one of the greatest @Lakers leaders of all time.The city of LA will be forever grateful to him.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 15, 2012