Derek Fisher is a pretty divisive name amongst Lakers’ fans. People just have a hard time agreeing on what his role should be on this Lakers team and how much value he actually provides as a player. Should he be starting? How many minutes should he play? Is his leadership really that important to a team that is led by Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant? Does he hurt more than he helps? I could go on and on, but whether it’s these questions or others you’ll likely get varying opinions if you asked a room full of Lakers fans.
But what you won’t get any disagreement on is that Derek Fisher is clutch. The man just has a knack for hitting big shots. Whether it’s the regular season or the playoffs, Fisher comes through over and over again to the point that it’s not debatable – the man has stones of steel and will hit the dagger shot if you give him the chance. A simple YouTube search reveals some of his greatest hits and on this day, I’m sharing some of the more memorable ones from Fisher’s career. Enjoy.
We’re all familiar with this one, right? As a famous big man that donned the #34 jersey for the Lakers said about this shot, “one lucky shot deserves another”. Not only did this shot help the Lakers down the Spurs and propel them to a 4th Finals trip in 5 years, but it had the added bonus of putting that look on Bruce Bowen’s face.
Personally, this shot is probably my favorite of any of the ones that will appear in this post. At this point, the Lakers are down by three with less than 10 seconds left with the prospect of losing a 2nd consecutive game and facing a tied series. Fortunately though, the Lakers never get to that point as Fisher comes up huge with a deep three pointer to tie the game to force overtime.
The best part about this shot for me? Not the fact that it ended up being the shot that put the Lakers up for good in the game. Nor the fact that Fisher came up huge for the second time in 5 minutes to save the Lakers from a potential tied series. The best part to me is the smile on Fisher’s face. It’s both pure happiness and the ultimate face of self belief at the same time.
If you were to go back to this past year’s playoffs, this shot would probably be one that most people don’t remember. I think we’d all recall Pau’s tip in against the Thunder, Ron’s put back against the Suns, and Ron’s other great shot in game 7 versus the Celtics. But, this shot that Fisher hit was huge and it essentially sealed the fate of the Jazz in the playoffs. Sure, we’ll all look back at this series and remember how the Jazz were overmatched, but this was the contest (game 3) where the Jazz were really starting to show some life. If the Jazz win this game, maybe they win game 4 as well (something not difficult to imagine considering OKC did the series before). Then, the Lakers don’t get the same rest that they ended up getting. Rest that allowed Kobe to get his knee drained. Rest that allowed Bynum some extra time to off his damaged leg. When looking at Fisher’s shot through this lens, it’s actually a bit bigger than what our memories will show.
You know I had to save the best for last. This differs from the other clips because this wasn’t just one shot, but rather a fantastic string of great plays by Fish. He continuously threw his body around and hit the buckets that helped the Lakers regain control in the Finals. In comments of the player review that Phillip wrote on Fisher, commenter Aaron said it well so I’ll give him the last word:
With the season really almost on the line as the last 5 minutes began to tick down Fish didn’t just stand by the three point line open as Kobe or Gasol demanded a double team… he repeatedly created his own shot time and time again when the other Lakers simple couldn’t. To me it will go down as the most brilliant 4th quarter Finals performance by a role player of all time.
I really can’t think of another player who could be battered and basically beaten by opposing players and press alike so badly and for so long… and turn it on the way he did. Say what you want about him as a player (and I have) but as far as heart and dare I say balls… Fisher is second to no man.