Derek Fisher is beloved by whatever city he plays for, and that love is still strong in Los Angeles. (Derek Fisher Facebook)
It was a bittersweet feeling for some fans, as current Oklahoma City point guard Derek Fisher played what could be his last NBA game. In a tough series versus the San Antonio Spurs, the OKC Thunder lost 4-2. In their final game, Fisher was the only scorer from the bench, finishing with five points and six rebounds.
Looking at Fisher’s stats doesn’t do justice to what he has accomplished in his 18-years in the league. He may have averaged only 8.3 points in his career, but nothing can compare to the rainbow arc he would shoot to make a clutch three-pointer.
Alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, he racked in five NBA Championship rings while in Los Angeles. One can even argue that his best years were when he wore purple and gold. Ask almost any Lakers fan to recollect their favorite memory of Fisher and the number .4 comes to mind.
“[The] Thunder should run the clock down to .4, then let Fisher shoot a three,” tweeted @AngryLakersFan during Game 6 of the Spurs-Thunder series.
Recently, Fisher took to Twitter to recollect the infamous shot that happened 10 years ago, which ironically came versus the Spurs.
“At first, I thought the shot was a little long. But about halfway there, I knew it was going in,” tweeted Fisher.
After hitting the game-winner Fisher ran off the court, almost to escape the idea that the shot didn’t count. Lucky for him and the millions of Lakers fans watching, it did. It was shots like this that sealed Fisher’s place in Lakers history.
There are very few players who could leave a team only to return to the same loving fans that once chanted their name. Fisher may have played for five NBA teams, but once a Laker, always a Laker.
So, what will happen now? After hitting what could be the last shot of his career, is the game over?
Fisher originally said via Instagram that this would be his last year, but following Game 6, it seems he is unsure and undecided about his future in the NBA.
“I haven’t got a chance to talk to my wife and kind of step back emotionally from the end of the season. That’s important to do, so that whatever is next, there has to be a separation from the end of the season and what just happened ,and then I can go from there,” Fisher said during the team’s exit interviews.
So far both the New York Knicks and L.A. Lakers have expressed interest. It’s only right that after 13 seasons with the Lakers, Fisher either ends up alongside Phil Jackson or Kobe Bryant. Fisher claims those offers will factor into his decision moving forward.
“The personal relationship and professional relationship that I’ve had with Phil Jackson over the years, and being in the position that he’s in, and also, with the Lakers having an opening, it for sure adds layers to it,” said Fisher. “But like other important decisions in life, I don’t think you can be driven by what’s going on externally. You have to have an internal set of boundaries and a compass that you make decisions by. I’ll combine all those things as I try and make the best decision possible.”
You always root for the underdog, the good guy, the hero, and Fisher at one time or another has played all of those roles.
As the Spurs celebrated going to the NBA Finals back-to-back, the 39-year-old veteran stood on the court following his team’s loss. In his eyes you could see him soaking in the moment. Win or lose, Fisher loves the game of basketball.
Knowing that this could be his last time playing, it was as if 18 years flashed before his eyes, and all of his wins, losses, buzzer-beaters and championship parades came flooding back.
“If you watched the game last night, you know my heart is definitely still in it,” said Fisher. “But I’m also realistic about knowing I can’t do this forever, even if I’m physically capable of still going it.”
Maybe Bryant should share some of his Fountain of Youth secrets. Looking back to the early years of Bryant’s and Fisher’s career, it seems NBA players aren’t built like they used to be. The combination of determination, loyalty and endurance surpasses that of some NBA players today.
“If this is it for me, that will be the saddest part,” he said.
That will be the saddest part for most Laker fans who saw Fisher hit clutch three-pointers, buzzer beaters and help continue the Lakers winning legacy.
If this is it, Fisher has a lot to teach players, and the Lakers organization isn’t the only franchise to recognize that. Laker fans couldn’t get Jackson back, but they might still catch a big Fish.