The Fish that Saved Los Angeles

Derek Fisher is often regarded as the weak link on a team full of all-star quality players. What separates the Lakers from most teams in the league is their length and versatility. Compared to the majority of his teammates, Fisher possesses the least of these characteristics. It’s true that he can’t defend against quick, penetrating guards like he used to and sometimes it’s frustrating to see him drive hard to the basket, only to blow a layup. But he makes up for his physical deficiencies by playing the game with intelligence and without apprehension. Consider the innumerable times Fisher has sacrificed his body to draw a charge against an often quicker, more athletically gifted opponent who’s running towards him at full speed. I’m not suggesting the criticisms against Fisher aren’t legitimate but there’s a reason the Zen master continues to utilize Fisher as his starting point guard, despite his obvious shortcomings.

Fisher’s contributions on the box score are often paltry but he brings stability, intensity and integrity essential to a championship team. On of team of characters, Fisher’s greatest attribute is his character. Derek Fisher is not soft, he never quits on his team, he always competes hard, and he never puts himself before his team. Even on a team boasting a surplus of 7-footers, Fisher stands above the rest.

In a league where the two main slogans are “Where Amazing Happens” and “NBA Cares,” I’m hard-pressed to find an individual who embodies what the NBA is trying to represent better than Derek Fisher. It’s no surprise that he also happens to be the president of the National Basketball Players Association. In an era where NBA players are relishing at the opportunity to be explicitly coveted by teams competing to sign them to max contracts (see: Free Agent Class of 2011), Fisher took a substantial pay cut when he left Utah to sign with the Lakers. Even though he was set to earn the largest salary of his career, he chose to act out of the best interest of his family instead.

NEXT: The Tale of Two Cities

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