You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone…

Darius Soriano —  January 26, 2009

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers
The title of this post is a reference to a famous Joni Mitchell song, Big Yellow Taxi.  It’s a song that has been redone, reworked, and used multiple times in pop culture.  But, this isn’t a music history blog and I’m not the guy to talk to about songs released in 1970.  So, I’m not going to break down the melody or try to discern some hidden meaning from this classic hit.  However, these lyrics have been darting through my head recently when thinking about our team.  You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…

Just the other day, Kurt ran a post and linked to an update on Jordan Farmar and his ahead of schedule recovery from a knee injury that he suffered last month against the Heat.  And against the Spurs yesterday, Farmar did indeed return way ahead of schedule, performing quite nicely in his first game action in a month.  He was his usual agressive self, taking the ball to the basket, shooting when open, and pushing the ball at every opportunity.  He again showed his chemistry with Ariza and brought that extra dimension to our team that no other player really brings.  It was definitely nice to have him back in the mix and adding additional life to our second unit. 

However, even when Farmar was out, our team kept on rolling.  Sure, we were a different team:  Our second unit (while still fantastic) lost one of it’s sparkplugs, we were running less, and our rotations and substition patterns were thrown off.  Sasha saw more minutes at PG and he filled this role quite well.  He pestered guys full court, knocked down jumpers, and he filled our need for an additional ball handler with our primary backup PG sidelined.  However, this post is not about Sasha.  Farmar’s absence also impacted Kobe.  With Farmar out, we saw Kobe’s minutes go up and the coaches had him in lineups where he was the defacto PG.  Lineups where he was paired with anyone and everyone and was mostly a distributor.  Bynum even referred to #24 as Kobe Nash in the postgame interview following our win over the Clippers.  However, this post is not about Kobe.  And despite the title, and him being the guy that was actually out with an injury, this post is not about Jordan Farmar.  This post is about another guy.

Let me take you on a trip down memory lane.  Brace yourself, it’s not pretty.  Chucky Atkins, Aaron McKie, Shammond Williams, Smush Parker, (rookie) Jordan Farmar.  These are the guys that we called on to play PG for us while Derek Fisher was away.  Away helping Utah make the playoffs.  Away contributing to the turnaround in Golden State that saw them make the playoffs the season after he was traded to the Jazz.  Remember those days?  Yeah, I tried to purge them from my memory as well.  I bring this up because recently the talk surrounding Fisher has been less about praise and more about picking him apart.  In our first meeting with the Spurs, Fisher made the mistake of fouling Roger Mason Jr. on a made shot that turned out to be the game winning basket (after the subsequent made free throw).  In several games since then, we’ve seen him foul players shooting three point shots, make the (seemingly) incorrect decision on the fast break, and not finish some shots in the lane that (we think) he should be making.  Basically, we’ve seen him make mistakes and we’ve criticized him for it.  Some of us have been calling for his minutes to be decreased.  Some of us have suggested that he not close games out.  “Should Sasha be closing games instead?  Should we move Ariza to SG and have Kobe, Odom, Gasol, and Bynum close games?”  Us fans were asking these questions.  Essentially, we’ve implied that he could be playing better; we’ve called him boneheaded and we’ve highlighted his mistakes while downplaying what he’s been doing well.

Really though, this isn’t a new thing.  Over his two stints with the Lakers, Derek Fisher has been one of the more unheralded players on the team.  Sure, he’s hit some big shots (most notably this one) and he’s contributed to many wins.  We all recall his late season return from injury in 2001 as a major key to our post season romp that ended with a champiomship trophy and an amazing 15-1 record in the playoffs.  But for the most part, Fisher has been just a role player.  When our Threepeat run started in Phil’s first stint as coach of the team, Fisher was the player that went from starter to sub when Phil wanted Ron Harper to be the big guard he likes to run his Triangle Offense.  When the Lakers tried to go from the Big 2 of Shaq/Kobe to the Big 4 that included Gary Payton and Karl Malone, it again was Fisher that went to the bench so that Gary Payton (who ignited our fast break, but was a poor fit for our halfcourt sets) could start for the team.  Through all that, Fisher remained the consumate pro and has happily gone out and done his job.   This has been Fishers m.o. his entire career:  Do what’s asked of him, give maximum effort doing it, and be a leader at the same time.

And this continues now.  On this current team, Fish is a guy that is doing exactly what we need of him.  He is helping this team, despite some of his weaknesses.  I know that Fisher has never had the strongest instincts when handling the ball on the fast break.  I also know that Fisher is not the best finisher when he gets into the lane.  It’s also clear that Fish has lost a step and is no longer the strongest on ball defender against quick PG’s.  Kurt even coined an acronym that describes his penchant for shooting a pull up jumer in transition.  However, all of these issues combined don’t come close to the negatives that his predacessors possesed.  They also don’t diminish his value to this team.  And if we’re talking about value, some things need to be mentioned.  During the time that Farmar was out with his knee injury, Fisher saw his average minutes increase from 26.9 min/gm to 36.8 min/gm.  This stretch included seven instances of playing over 40 minutes in a game.  However with that increased workload, we actually saw a better player.  With Farmar out, Fisher shot better from the floor, got more steals per game, and fouled at a slightly lesser rate (no small feat considering the minutes increase).  He was also still money from the foul line, was still drawing charges, and was still making big time jumpshots when the team needed a bucket.  Basically, he was playing the best he had all season.  And all of it came from a 34 year old player that most of us thought would have ceded his starting position to someone else by now. 

Last Thursday night against Washington, Fish made a beautiful drive to the basket, collapsed the defense, and dropped a tremendous bounce pass (through multiple defenders) to a slashing Bynum for a finish at the rim.  In our game against Cleveland, when the Cavs were making their late game run it was Fisher that made a key jumper to stem the tide and push a seven point lead back to nine with two minutes left to play. He’s making plays like these every game.  And what’s funny is, many times we’re taking it for granted.  I remember when Fisher originally left the team to sign with the Warriors.  While many of us were discouraged as another piece of our championship team left, no one really felt that bad.  I mean, Phil was gone, Shaq was gone…Fisher’s leaving too?  Okay, it’s just one more guy.  The thought was, we can’t pay him that much money and he’s a player that’s declining anyway.  But, now that he’s back (ironically, on the tail end of the contract that he signed when he left Thanks to Craig W. and Vincent for pointing out that Fisher signed a New Deal with the Lakers after his contract with the Jazz was mutually terminated) I wonder how we got by without him.  Well, after re-reading that list of replacements up there, we didn’t get by, did we? 

Nothing against Farmar.  In his first game back he showed me a lot of good things and reinforced his work ethic with an early return to the lineup.  And not only did he return early, he looked sharp.  And that type of performance doesn’t happen if you’re approaching your rehab half heartedly.  So I’m not knocking Jordan here.  I’m only saying that we should also recognize what Fish has done in Farmar’s absence.  Because just like the last time he wasn’t around, when Fisher’s no longer here, we’re all going to miss him.  We’ll miss his steadiness, his savvy, and that strange release resulting in all those made jumpers.  But he’s not gone yet.  So today, as Joni Mitchell’s lyrics go through my head, I thought I’d just remind everyone to appreciate what we have while we’ve got it.  We’ve seen what it’s like without him. 

-Darius

Darius Soriano

Posts

86 responses to You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone…

  1. First!

    Great post, Darius. I think just as important as Fisher’s veteran floor presence is his veteran locker room presence. I think that some of the credit for the development of Jordan and Sasha has to be the return of Fisher, who has been in this league, knows how to work, and knows how to be a professional. Fisher’s return also takes some of the leadership burden from Kobe’s shoulders, probably a role that the Player’s Association President is better suited for than the uber-intense Kobe.

    As I’ve said before, Fisher’s value goes beyond his contributions on the court. Which is why resigning him after 2010, especially if it’s on the cheap, is not only beneficial, but necessary.

  2. Great post.

    I really like Fisher as a player and he seems like a good guy in general.

    Sure, he makes mistakes sometimes (I cringe whenever he drives to the basket), but overall I think he plays a very solid game and that is what we need from him.

    He is also very playofftested and that shouldn’t be underestimated come May/June.

    I really hope he ends his career in Purple/Gold and maybe even stays in the organization one way or the other.

  3. Great post. Fishers presence and contribution to the team go way beyond the his stats. I think just his veteran presence on the floor and in the locker room are a tremendous part of the team. We will have to wait and see if he will play past the end of his current contract. I know that he will make whatever decision he thinks is best for him and his family, whether that be retire or continue playing. If he does retire, I think that he will make a good coach and if one of our assistants (or Phil) leaves there might be a place for him on the bench as a coach.

  4. Professional. Veteran. That’s not easy to come by in the NBA.

  5. I’ve been a supporter of Ariza closing out games on opposing PG’s, or even Sasha out there too depending on the situation, but it has more to do with flexibilty rather than knocking Fish.

    I don’t think fish is a Laker after next year, but he will always be a great Laker to me.

  6. Darius – fantastic post.

    I had the great privelege of attending game 5 of the 2004 WC semis here in SA when Derek hit the .4 shot. I had my 2 year old son with me. He was crying because of the deafening noise of the local fans after Duncan’s would-be winner and didn’t know what was going on. I have to admit that I was near tears too. To this day, I still remember what I whispered in my son’s ears – “Always believe in your team.” My son didn’t understand anything that was going on then, but when we watch that replay on tv he knows he was there and he knows exactly who hit the shot. Fisher is a class act all the way. He may not be the tallest, fastest, strongest (okay, maybe) or best shooter, but the guy hustles all the time and always believes in the team. He is just the consummate team-first glue guy. I’d have no problems with the team resigning him for less money to help mentor along our guards or become an assistant. Fish – we know what we’ve got and let’s get another ring!

  7. D-Fish has always been one of my favorite Lakers. He’s tough, professional and a first-class “character guy”.
    The stat sheet may not reflect his value, but he is invaluable to the Lakers.
    I will miss him when he is gone (which I hope is not soon).

  8. Sorry for the double post.

    But, what has happened to Warren Wee Lim. We’re gonna need him to make the first post on game days come May/June.

  9. 8. I don’t know, but Warren Wee Lim lived in the Philippines, and getting in the first post was hard because it tends to go up in the middle of the night their time. He was dedicated.

  10. Another truly great character portrait, Darius,

    even though they may not have “paved paradise and put up a parking lot” when Derek left the first time.

    Rather than “paving paradise”, they may have allowed some lessor timbers into the forest unbeknownst.

    Derek is one of a very small number of players that can match Kobe’s work ethic, and maybe even surpass Kobe’s competitive juices at times. On court, he just won’t back down against anyone.

    Derek’s playoff buzzer beater against San Antonio is already legend, but his playoff 3 pointer for the Jazz, returning from his daughter’s surgery in New York on a cross country flight, to suit up and play in the second half, may be almost fairy tale like–and more inspirational.

    Can he top those in the next playoffs? Stay tuned.

    Though some question Derek’s PUJITs and drives to the basket, they may not be fully aware of the strategic benefits of forcing the opponent PG to get worn down transitioning and playing on the defensive end–even if Derek’s productivity may not be what one would hope. On defense, Derek is often incorrectly held accountable by fans (but not Laker coaches) for teamwide failures.

    Fisher can be a goat instead of a hero in last second histrionics, but that’s often because he instinctively has found ways to anticipate correctly where the action will be.

    Before anyone contemplates Derek’s retirement, one needs to be sure that no one will be singing Joni’s song the next year.

  11. PeanutButterSpread January 26, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Like I said in another post, I don’t ever want to lose D-Fish, not if it can be helped. I really do believe the Lakers will resign him, even if he gets up there in age:

    “We lost Fish after 2004 and look what happened to us.

    I know it’s not the same, but …

    I don’t think losing Fish, no matter his age, is a good idea. He’ll have a great veteran presence coming off the bench for us, assuming Jordie becomes our starting point guard. Plus we all know Fish does a great job conditioning his body, so even though he’ll be getting up there in age, he can be our Mutumbo :D”

    Veteran presence. That’s what separates the contenders from championship teams.

  12. My guess is that Fish is so overlooked mainly because he’s so consistent and because he’s not flashy. You know what to expect from him game in and game out, and his reliability is pretty unequivocal. You should never underestimate the value of a player who you can count on like that, so I’m glad to see Fish get some much deserved credit in a post like this.

  13. Sorry to go off-topic for a second after a brilliant post by Darius, but this cracked me up.

    Check out the disclaimer put in front of Sam Smith’s article on NBA.com:

    The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

    http://www.nba.com/bull/news/smith_090126.html

  14. They took it down already.

  15. Found it. Same page link, but it won’t link there.

    ??

  16. 10. Very good point about Fisher’s play while in Utah. He was just as solid for them and his commitment to team was certainly on display.

    This brings me to a point that didn’t make the post, but I wanted to raise. I actually think that Fisher’s time away from the Lakers made him a better player. Sure it hurt our franchise, but as a player he was able to refine his game. While he was gone, he improved his ballhandling on the P&R, he is better at getting into the lane, and he’s better at creating his own shot in one-on-one situations. These aren’t things he’s asked to do too often on our team now, but I’ve seen many more situations this season where he’s excelled in these areas. Against the Clips, he made several nice passes to Bynum in P&R situations and several times this year he’s been a guy that’s buried a jumper by creating his own shot with the clock winding down.

  17. http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/smith_090126.html

    Kurt,

    Sorry to triple post. It was the “s” in Bulls that you forgot.

  18. OK. He’s an improvement over inept DLeaguers like Smush, Tierre and Shammond, deep bench players like Chucky, and a creaky Aaron McKie. That’s really not saying much as none of these guys would be ever get off the bench on a bad NBA team, much less a championship contender.

    I appreciate what Fish has brought the team in the past, but he shouldn’t be a starter at this point in his career. If the front office does nothing to upgrade the point, and they let Lamar Odom leave for financial reasons, this championship window is going to close prematurely.

  19. Fish is bringing a lot to this team now, in the triangle and on a title team you need some people who are steady if not flashy.

    As for next season, if you let Fish walk you need to get another quality PG back, because I’m not sold that Farmar can step up. There are a number of good free agent PGs on the market next summer if the Lakers want to go that route. But I wouldn’t weep if Fisher is back. Just to a one, two-year max deal.

  20. Fisher is a good guy… he just isn’t a good pg. He is around the 35th or 40th best pg in the nba. So I will not miss him when he leaves as long as we can get an avg pg to take his place… and for some reason for the Lakers that is tough to do. While it seems liek every other team has a star pg, the Lakers simply can’t get anyone of talent at that spot… and I don’t know why.

  21. Fish had a 3yr deal with the Lakers, not a continuation of his previous deal (the Jazz let him out of that deal and should be commended for it). This is the 2nd year, so Fish will be here next year – at least.

  22. Edward,
    I think it’s easier to say that “player x shouldn’t be a starter” until you actually have to go and replace that player. For some players (for example, a Desmond Mason type) that’s not as difficult because athletic wing men who slash and play some defense aren’t that rare (Reuben Patterson, Dhantay Jones, Bobby Simmons, Bowen, Udoka, etc). However, for a player to succeed in our system, as a PG, he needs some distinct qualities that are pretty difficult to find in one player. (On a side note, we see this same thing with our SF’s…how none of them provide everything we’d want.)

    Like Kurt said, there are some FA PG’s that will be available after this season. And I do think we need to think long term and find a player that we can pair with Farmar and rely on. I just hope that Fish can continue to produce the way that he has this season for a little while longer because we need him to.

  23. 21. Craig, good point. My mistake on that. Fish did sign a new deal with us because his last contract was indeed voided. Thanks for making that clear.

  24. Very well-done article.

    Just a small factual error: Fisher is actually no longer under the contract that he signed when he went to Golden State. He was traded from GS to Utah and then released from his contract after a year because of his daughter’s health condition. He then signed with the Lakers.

  25. I don’t think we need someone flashy, Kurt. Though some crave a prototypical PG, I think Mitch could find broaden the search by looking for a solid combo-guard. In fact, a combo-guard would be probably provide a more seamless transition from Fish. It would help if the Lakers could find someone who can stay in front of their man and keep the defense from collapsing. It would benefit Andrew Bynum’s development as well on defense.

    Alluding to the Joni Mitchell song, I agree. Fish is a good fit with the starting unit, and he’s clutch when he’s limited to catch and shoot 3s and deep 2s. He is also a smart defender… but at this point in his career, he should be a backup player, saving his legs for the playoffs. That’s where this team will needs him most, as you cannot replace that veteran leadership.

  26. Can’t have Kobe and Ariza as your backcourt to close games. Not enough ballhandling. Teams would just press and trap us to death.

  27. It seems like some people feel like all 5 players on the court need to be all stars or all star level players. But there needs to be players that fill a certain role and Fish does this for the Lakers. Yes there a lot of PGs that are more talented and better players than Fisher, but many of these players would not fit on this team. The triangle does not require a true PG so you don’t need a Deron Williams or CP3, in fact they wouldn’t fit in the system.

    As many people have stated, what Fisher brings to the Lakers goes way beyond his stats. He brings the confidence to take, make and sometimes miss big shots, leadership both on and off the court, professionalism and a good work ethic, the ability to make big plays at key moments (take a charge, hit a shot when the other team in on a run, get a big steal), calm the team down when they are struggling. The lakers are still a very young team and Fishers leadership is a thing that all young teams need. Its not easy to find quality role players who fit your system.

  28. Darius,
    The hardest thing to replace with Fish:

    1. Vet leadership, though I’m sure I’m not alone at cringing at some of his decision-making this season.

    2. Good percentage shooting from the arc, or deep twos.

    3. Tri knowledge.

    Reason #3 is the hardest to replace, but then that’s a self-fullfilling prophecy. By not picking up a PG or combo-guard in the offseason, we become overly reliant on the incumbent PG. Not a wise move when the incumbent is a 34 year old guard.

    Frankly, it doesn’t have to be a pure PG. A combo-guard would also work well within the tri. That alone increases the number of players the front office could consider, contrary to what I believe you’re asserting.

    Last, who said Darius Miles? I’m not a big fan of his game, at least not in terms of working within our system. If you’re trying to present an argument, at least use my post content rather than inventing a strawman and attributing it to me.

  29. kneejerk,

    When has worked with an consistency?

    Plus, I think you’re forgetting that Lamar is also in the line-up at that time. That’s two ball handlers. Three if the line-up is Kobe, Sasha, LO, Pau and Ariza.

  30. **When has that worked with any consistency?

  31. Kurt,

    I 2nd that. A shamrock?

  32. I’m sending Sasha one of those for his birthday…

  33. Wiat- before I read the post in full the title and photo don’t refer to anything resulting in Fish being “gone” right? I almost had a panic attack for a second. Okay, now I’ll go read the full thing.

  34. the other Stephen January 26, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    i’m pretty sure one of derek’s biceps are the size of one of my thighs.

  35. Anyone who buys that green Lakers shirt should be smacked upside the head and forced to ride around in Paul Pierce’s wheelchair. Speaking of Lakers T-shirts, I spent an hour at the team store at Staples on Friday and the best looking shirts they had were black. Can’t we find a nice purple one, somewhere? Please.

    And for those who love to pile on Gary Vitti, this quote from today’s L.A. Times should provide some nice fodder:

    As Farmar got dressed, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti asked why he was in uniform.
    “I said ‘I’m playing today,’ ” Farmar responded.

    If the head trainer doesn’t know that a rotation player is coming back to the floor, that’s just not a good sign.

  36. That T-Shirt made me throw up in my mouth.

  37. Fish is key for this team. He brings confidence and a 3 point threat that the team needs. He may have never been an all-star, but he has been clutch when we needed him to be. I’ll take that over an all-star any day.

  38. Sounds like the bean counters are making the decisions about clothing design and coloring. Anyone with an ounce of Laker knowledge would have nixed that design before it got past the talking stage. Since when did Lakers celebrate St Patty’s day, anyway?

  39. What is Fish’s +/- this year? If it is anywhere close to zero or + then we need him to start. He brings so much more than statistics. Kobe always knows where he is and what he will do – so does Gasol and Lamar. Those are the 3 people most responsible for moving the ball for us (outside of Fish) and it is critical that we have that consistency. Why does Phil start Luke Walton? Because he is dependable in running the system and passing from/to the correct position.

  40. In raw numbers, Fish is +5.5 per 48 minutes. Third best on the team (Odom, Kobe).

    But, his defense has not been good, his opponent PER is very high as an obvious symptom of that. I think this post is great because it gets the balance — Fisher is not the end all be all, he is not the long term, but his is solid and steady, and that is what we need right now.

  41. Chris J.,

    I don’t know whether to laugh or not. Vitti probably thought Farmar was out at least another year.

  42. LOL @ wondahbap.

  43. No, no, no, wondahbap.

    Vitti thought Farmar would be back by Jan 2nd. No, wait, the All-Star break. Hmm, make that a couple weeks before the playoffs. Well, now that I think about it, probably the 2nd round. Actually, he’ll be there for the Finals. Whoops, guess there’s always next season, assuming he doesn’t have any setbacks with his rehab.
    [/vitti]

  44. I’ve heard from reliable sources that this Vitti, he of buzzed curls, is actually Evil Vitti come from a parallel universe where the Hippocratic Oath is thought to be a sign of weakness.

  45. Not Charlie Rosen January 26, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    I still remember, I think it was 98 or 99, the year that Van Exel gave the “Cancun Cancun” pre-game chant and Shaq had him kicked out of town…we were down to the Spurs 2-0 or 3-0, and on the brink of being swept again, and there was a story that Fisher, only a 2nd or 3rd year player at the time, wrote a letter–an actual, handwritten letter–and put a copy in everyone’s locker, begging them to dig deeper inside them selves and find a way to pull out the win, that chances to compete at the highest level only come along so often (if ever) and you can’t waste them.

    This, from a young kid, making a small percentage of what the other players on the team were making, practically begging them to please try to work as hard as he and a few others were to at least give San Antonio (or was it Utah?) a tougher series.

    Loved him ever since.

  46. 40. To piggy back on Kurt some and to bolster something I said earlier about Fisher being better in his 2nd stint with the team at getting off shots with the clock running down check out these two anectdotes:

    1). Fisher is the PG on our top 10 five man units. So, even though Farmar and Sasha have performed quite nicely this season, Fisher is still the PG that is best suited to run this team.

    2). Fisher shoots 36% of his shots with the shot clock showing 8 seconds or less. His eFG% on those shots is .564. Compare that number to the .481 in first 10 seconds of the shot clock or the .438 in seconds 11-15 of the shot clock. Essentially, when the clock is running down, Fisher is shooting his best.

  47. Chris J

    There are no “Forum Blue” colored shirts…but here’s a link to a very nice Gold T-shirt.

    http://www.zazzle.com/forum_blue_gold_1_shirt-235996654830098579

  48. PJ,

    Actually, you can order the FB & G shirts in a multitude of colors, styles, and brands of tees.

  49. Re: that ridiculous “St. Patty’s Day Laker shirt:” it’s the perfect gag gift for your favorite (or least favorite?) Celtics fan.

  50. Off topic:

    Congrats to Bynum or being names western conference player of the week.

    http://www.nba.com/2009/news/01/26/player.of.week012609/index.html?rss=true

  51. aaron,

    name the 34.
    better yet, name 20

  52. Great post by Darius (even with the palpitations). I don’t have to wherewithal to go back and find proof, but during the dark days of Point Guards past I used to post here (and/or at the LATimes blog) that I thought Fisher was the perfect fix for our PG problems. A Smart veteran who can make the open shot, knew the system and would at least try to defend (he has issues but I don’t think gambling too much is one of them).

    Yeah it’s possible to find fault with him, but there’s very few perfect players. Given that an imperfect player was destined to be in this role, I think Fisher fits as well as any player in the league. And he’s serving as a great role model for Farmar. I don’t even mind his PUJITs anymore because he makes a fair amount of them, and it serves to keep defenses honest.

    I remember the first game he started against our then arch-nemesis Phoenix last year. Everybody knew he wouldn’t be able to contain Nash, including him. But Fisher was smart enough to turn it around and came out gunning. Nash couldn’t stop him either. Fisher only had 14 points in 20 so odd minutes of time, but he shot a clean 7 of 9 from the field (according to basketballreference.com). It was a wiley veteran move playing defense with offense if you will.

    We won that game running away and I’ve never regretted this acquisition. Fisher never should have left us.

  53. Wow. Bynum was named Western Conference player of the week. Good on him.

    http://www.nba.com/2009/news/01/26/player.of.week012609/index.html

  54. Darius, awesome post, bringing some light to one of our Laker Legends…

    46 & 54, I think you guys hit it on the head – exposing the intangibles that Mr. PUJIT brings to any (especially our young, always growing) team. He helps bring more out of his teammates. There’s a belief in himself and in what he’s working towards, and it is powerful stuff to have going on. I hope, and pretty well seem fitting, that DFish finishes out his career as a Laker. I love him as our Mutombo. He’s got the kind of intangibles, strength and conditioning, along with skill set, to compete and at least contribute for a little while…

  55. Great game in NY. At times it’s seemed like a bad shot competition, but it’s exciting nonetheless.

  56. When I think of Fisher, the word consistent comes to mind. You know what you are going to get from him day in and day out. I do not remember the last time he was even injured for a period of time, he’s always there for his team. I was shocked at some of the bad fouls he has done lately at the very end of some games, that is not normally what I would expect from him. We are all human I guess.

    Chance favors the prepared mind.

  57. I was the sort of person who underrated Fisher because my expectations had been shaped by Earvin Johnson. I kept think of PG as a position for a superstar, and as Fisher was clearly not a superstar I would be continuously looking over the horizon for the coming superstar. Once I understood the alternative (Smush Parker — it’s sounds like something you clean off your windshield) I sort of adopted a zen attitude of surrendering expectations. What happens at the point when you don’t have expectations is that he is forever delivering things you don’t count on. While you look to others for the superstar performances, along comes Fisher performing the superstar feat.

  58. First of all, fantastic piece, Darius. That was a great read and certainly a great reminder about the contributions of Fisher. One thing I would add is that I perceive him to be faster and smarter on defense now than he was during his first stint. Maybe this has something to do with the inability of smush, but I remember marveling at how different he carried himself on defense. For me, that has been one of his main improvements to the team.

  59. it amazes me that when fisher came back to lakers, he came back as a better player, as a better shooter, and as a veteran that lakers need. He came back as a player deserving $5+ mil. salary more than when he was in summer of 2004.

    ever since he came back, i am impressed by his shooting and his experience. he’s important part of contending lakers.

    However, i want to make it clear that I don’t want to see opposing point guard playing like an all-star every single games!! Fisher+Farmar can’t guard. I wish Lakers have another PG, who is quick and tall, and who’s a solid defender.

  60. Fish is solid, always gives maximum effort and keeps the defense honest with his great spot up shooting. He has a high basketball IQ and is always in the right spot. The man has ice water running thru his veins. I wudnt want anyone else takin a open 3 with the game on the line .

  61. Thank you for writing this. Couldnt have come at a better time with all the DFish bashing.

    I’d post a link to this at lakersground.net (home of the rowdiest laker fans who turn their back on their own players) but I was banned there for defending Fish. If it werent for sites like this one–forum blue and gold, TLN, and a select few of others I wouldve lost faith in the laker fan base. Great article.

  62. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had my share of Fisher bashing. I still think he needs to play defense better. But as Darius pointed out in his excellent post, Fisher does have a lot of redeeming qualities that many of our other PGs didn’t possess. However, making smarter decision overall is something that he can fix. I’m sure that Fisher is one of the league leaders in PUJITs AND taking a long jumper after dribbling for 10 seconds without passing by PG, too. That said, I rather have Fisher take wide open 3s than anyone on the Lakers right now. Yes, Kobe and Sasha are good shooters, too. But Fisher is the most consistent, best 3 point shooter we have right now. I still remember him coming back from the injury in the regular season and knocking down ridiculous percentage of 3s in the playoffs.

    Finally, I’d rather have CP3, Deron, or even Calderon as my PG, but I’d rather have Fisher than Rondo, who couldn’t shoot straight even if his life depended on him.

    Who among NBA PGs could play PG role for our team better than Fisher right now? Mo Williams or Kirk Hinrich. They are both 9-10 mil players. I doubt we can get a Fisher-like PG for 4-5 mil that he makes. Anyone have a player in mind?

  63. Nothing but love for DFish, despite his questionable shot selection this season. I hope he stays on with the Lakers as a coach after his playing days are over. Assistant to head coach BShaw?

    PS: Thanks for fixing the gigantic blank space on top of the main page.

  64. fish has not missed a game in 4 consecutive seasons, he missed i think 3 games the season before these last 4 seasons which was for his daughter i believe.

    he’s solid and he holds himself with an air of confidence, with fisher you know what you are going to get and i think the pros outweigh the cons without a doubt.
    also, fisher seems the type to make sure everyone is under control and doesn’t get to erratic whether it’s off the court or on it.

  65. 65. Glad we finally got it done. And thanks to all of you who helped with suggestions and letting me know about the issue.

  66. Our opinions on Fish may vary drastically depending on Farmar’s development over the course of the season (especially in the playoffs), but whether he’s ultimately starting or on the bench, he’s going to give us quality minutes. No disputing that he’s an excellent character and a hugely positive influence on the locker room.

    Another issue playing in here is 2009 free agent class of PGs, many of whom we really don’t have that much of a realistic chance of nabbing (or don’t want on our team period). Might as well list them for the purposes of discussion:

    - Raymond Felton (restricted)
    - Ramon Sessions (restricted)
    - Jarrett Jack (restricted)
    - Jason Kidd
    - Andre Miller
    - Mike Bibby
    - Stephon Marbury
    - Bobby Jackson
    - Damon Jones

    Compare Fish to these set of guys, and while many of them are arguably better, we’ll need a full MLE to sign some of these guys when we have to resign our own free agents during the summer. Unless we get a Payton-esque “I’m at the end of the career, will sign for the minimum, and all I want is a championship”, then it’s doubtful we end up signing any of these guys. Three of them aren’t really upgrades over Fish (Jackson can’t shoot, we don’t want to touch Marbury with a twenty-foot pole, and Jones is subpar really). As such, Fish is likely still going to split minutes at the point with Farmar next season, and while Farmar may start, Fish will still give us quality minutes that many other PGs on the market can’t replicate (at his price tag).

  67. Great post excpet Don’t know what you got until it’s gone was made most famous by Cinderella. Joni Mitchell? who the heck is that?

  68. PeanutButterSpread January 27, 2009 at 1:40 am

    Also, I like having D-Fish in the locker room, he seems to me, to be the calming influence, the voice of reason, and probably the only one to keep Kobe’s sometimes ultra competitive/high expectation anger in check.

    At least that’s what it seems like, when you compare the turmoil before D-Fish resigned with us.

  69. @ Peanutbutter,

    Ding ding . . .

  70. Nice post!

    Let’s not forget how Fisher’s presence probably help stabilize the team last year, especially when Kobe’s volatile situation was going to blow up the Lakers. Fish probably had a big contribution in the development of not only Farmar, but also most of the younger guys regardless whether they were guards or not.

  71. Great post. Just recently downloaded and watched a few of our recent games in full, and it’s just amazing to see how many momentum changing/saving shots Fisher hits (he misses his share, of course). I was about to say he is more ‘clutch’ than Kobe on some games, even.

    Anyway, as for the green Lakers shirt, wow, you could wear that to see the Lakers play the Celtics @ Boston this February. Other than that, I see absolutely no use for it…

  72. 72 – maybe fisher even saved the lakers from losing kobe. remember how upset kobe was, bringing back his buddy was very important!

    fisher is a really good guy, team chemistry- and courtwise. his value is oftenly overlooked, because he is the opposite of flashy. sometimes we have to be reminded about this, or otherwise we will have to learn it the hard way again. so thank you, darius.

    this green shirt is really bad. the shamrock makes me wanna cry. damn…

  73. The Dude Abides January 27, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Excellent post, Darius. I’m one of those who has criticized Fish for his last-second boneheaded plays on D, but his overall value to the team is certainly much greater than a few last-second defensive plays. After all, of those three plays, he only got whistled for the foul once (on Roger Mason). The PUJITs don’t bug me as much, as he makes a decent percentage of them. However, he is the one guy on the team who shouldn’t go to the hole one-on-three in transition, as he doesn’t finish well at the basket.

    Even so, his strengths greatly outweigh his flaws. Tony Parker doesn’t burn us nearly as much as he used to, as Fish has figured out where to shuttle him into our help defense. The PG who hurts us the most now is Chris Paul, but he kills just about everybody he goes up against.

    I don’t like the idea of the team looking for another PG in free agency. There’s a pretty good chance that Darren Collison or Patty Mills will be available at the end of the first round in this year’s draft. Either one of those guys plus Jordan should give us a decent long-term solution at the PG position. If Phil wants to mix and match tall PGs in certain situations, we already know that Sasha can do that job competently.

    Also, if Fish wants to play for us after his current contract runs out, giving him an extra year or two for a little above the minimum would be a decent way to go, health permitting.

  74. harold,

    Even wearing it in Boston is useless. It would be the ultimate homage to them. Imagine the heckling someone would get wearing that shirt. The shirt is a rag. Making it green is one thing, adding the shamrock is take it to another level. Let’s hop Bill Simmons doesn’t get a hold of this info.

  75. I have to say that I’ve always been a huge fan of fish. The biggest reason for that is that when the other team is making a run during the game, yes, everyone looks to kobe to make a play, but I think fish has been quite good about picking his spots and providing what we need in these situations. He almost never gets flustered on the court and is generally making the right plays. Yes, he screws up, but it’s because he doesn’t screw up much at all that it becomes magnified when he does (see roger mason’s game-winner). I’m glad to see fish getting some credit for what he does for the team.

  76. Fish is fine, in a big game you want him on your side.

    Sasha didn’t look too happy that Farmar came back. He sat pouting on the bench, and at one point, after Farmar hit a 3 and the Spurs called time out, all the bench players rushed out onto the court to give congrats to Jordan – except Sasha, who turned his back and went to the water cooler.

    But it is Ariza who has taken Sasha’s minutes. He doesn’t get the minutes with Kobe at small foward like last year and doesn’t close out games. It’s going to be a real juggling act for Phil to get everyone minutes to stay happy and sharp. Maybe at some point Kobe might take a few games off.

    As to guarding point guards, Ariza got torched by Chris Paul, but did well on Brooks and Parker. Can’t wait to see him on Rondo.

  77. 78, inwit, Ariza won’t guard Rondo, he’ll guard Pierce with kobe playing the field off Rondo.

  78. #78. We are back to square one with the rotations. However, there is no one I trust more than Phil to push the right buttons and have every player ready when his number is called. They may not be happy, but they will perform. And the best part about our depth is that if you’re not ready, you’ll come out and someone else will take your minutes.

  79. inwit,

    I expect Sasha’s role to continue. He’s been playing well. What we will see is Luke’s (or whoever is starting at SF) minutes be cut some, along with some of Fish’s.

  80. 79: unfortunately, you are correct. is there anyone else here who thinks that, when kobe plays ‘free safety’ styled D, the ratio of the number of uncontested makes for his man versus the # of times he actually gets a steal or helps double is something like 10 to 1?

    it’s as if kobe is only interested in onball defense when his natural matchup is the best player on the court (eg., wade) and on those few occasions, he’s fantastic.

    am I alone here?

  81. 79 – Maybe you are right, but I think shutting down Rondo is more important, Pierce is too strong for Ariza on the block anyway.

    80- I agree, but there are only so many minutes in a game. I’d also like to see Mihm and Powell get more time, you never know when you will need them (hopefully never, but…). It’s a good problem to have.

    81- Against some teams you could even start Sasha with Kobe at small foward.

  82. I’ve always liked Fish. I thought the Lakers made a mistake letting Fish go to the Warriors and am glad he came back to stabilize the team. Sometimes I get a little frustrated with his drives, shot selections, insistence on shooting the ball instead of passing it, and the more recent boneheaded plays, but overall I tend to remember his momemtum changing shots when we need a few good 3′s and of course that big .4 shot.

    He’s solid physicially, mentally and emotionally. I think the leadership and off/on court intangibles he brings to the team is invaluable. Especially since some of the members on the team can be emotionally sensitive and with all the mind games Phil plays, it’s good to have a steady head in the locker room.

    I do hope the Lakers can resign him on the cheap in the future and have him come in as a backup pg, kinda like Horry (maybe not as good defensively), the vet who comes in to make the big shots.

    I’m not yet convince that Farmar is the Lakers pg of the future. I think that it would be great if we can get a pg who can shoot and play good d. Not sure that’s Farmar. He can potentially develop into one, but that’s yet to be seen. I’m not advocating a trade of any sort, just a wait and see attitude on Farmar’s development and pg prospects/trades that may or may not happen.

  83. If only Phil could see some way to replace Pau with Bynum. Pau just doesn’t have it against this team. We would have been better to have Powell in there this game.