As many analysts predicted, today’s NBA trade deadline was a flurry of action. The Los Angeles Lakers were one of the busiest teams in the league. The trade that sent shockwaves through Laker Nation was the deal that sent longtime fan favorite Derek Fisher (and a draft pick) to the Houston Rockets for F Jordan Hill.
Although some fans think this was a good move, here are the Top 5 Reasons the Lakers will miss Derek Fisher:
1. Fish is clutch. Much has been made of Fisher’s poor defensive efforts against some of the Western Conference’s younger guards, and for good reason. At 37 years old, he had become somewhat of a defensive liability. And his season averages of 5.9 ppg and 3.3 apg don’t exactly “wow” you. But one thing no one can ever take away from him is what he does when it matters most. If you look up the word “clutch” in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Fisher (right next to a picture of Kobe Bryant, of course). There are numerous examples, from his iconic game winning shot in San Antonio with 0.4 seconds left to Game 4 of the 2009 NBA Finals when he drained a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to force overtime. Despite what Father Time has taken away from him, he still finds a way to come through with the game on the line. Here is the link of the “Fish Swish” for your viewing pleasure. Derek Fisher 0.4 Seconds
2. Fish is a leader. As floor general, Fisher efficiently ran sophisticated offenses during his tenure with the Lakers such as Phil Jackson’s complex triangle offense. He knew what spot on the floor players liked the ball, and he knew the right time in the offensive posession to get it to them. Fisher was also very good at knowing what the team needed given the circumstance. Everyone remembers the Lakers winning it all in 2009. But most people don’t remember that the Ron Artest led Houston Rockets forced a very tough seven game series en route to that championship. Houston was very physical and looked to bully a Lakers squad that most teams in the league saw as a “finesse” team. Fisher knew he had to send a message to the Rockets, and he chose to deliver that message directly to future teammate Luis Scola. Fisher sends a message.
3. Fish is intelligent. Fisher has a high basketball IQ and doesn’t make costly mistakes on offense or defense. If the offense was stagnant, he would feed Kobe the ball repeatedly until the team was back on track. In crunch time, he would often help the coaching staff draw up offensive plays based on what the opposing team liked to deploy defensively. Kobe always has the final say on who takes the last shot (99% of the time he calls his own number), but Fisher’s experience is an intangible this club will miss.
4. Fish is a winner. When you have five championship rings you play with a certain mentality: you expect to win. Fisher is a fierce competitor who doesn’t shy away from any challenge. Drafted 24th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft, he wasn’t the most physically gifted athlete taken that year (Kobe was drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets before his rights were traded to the Lakers). However, what he lacked in God-given ability he made up for with tenacity and the will to win. No one saw him as a first round draft pick, and many criticized the GM at the time, Jerry West, for taking Fisher with such a high pick. But the gamble paid off, and more banners hang in the rafters of Staples Center because of it.
5. Kobe loves Fish. Don’t underestimate this last reason the Lakers will miss Fish – it might be the biggest one. As mentioned above, these guys came into the league together. They have spent the past 16 years building their relationship, and they know each other probably better than anybody else with the exception of immediate family. Kobe trusts him handling the ball in critical situations and knows he can rely on him to make the right play. Just as Kobe voiced his displeasure with how the organization was handling the Pau Gasol rumor mill, he would have been even more vocal had the team made it known they were willing to part ways with one of their leaders. Let’s put it this way — Kobe was supposed to go on a local radio show this afternoon to discuss the moves the team had made, and he declined the on-air interview because he said he couldn’t “discuss the trade without using profanities.” The Black Mamba is not happy, and the Lake Show could only hope the new additions to the roster will make these ill feelings of his subside.