Sunday Special: The Clutch-ness Of Derek Fisher

Darius Soriano —  September 5, 2010

Jun. 08, 2010 - Boston, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - epa02192960 Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen (L) and Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (R) reach for the ball after Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher (C) is fouled by Boston Celtics forward Glen Davis (2R) during the Los Angeles Lakers 91-84 win over the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the NBA Finals at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 08 June 2010. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the best of seven series 2-1.

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.

Darius Soriano

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33 responses to Sunday Special: The Clutch-ness Of Derek Fisher

  1. In his post-game interview after Game 3 of the 2010 finals, Fisher had the biggest smile after the interviewer called him a hero.

  2. Of course it made him smile. Fisher is a very proud man, who had just suffered through an entire season of Lakers fans screaming for him to retire. We called him all sorts of pretty bad and hurtful things and we believed we were right… of course he smiles and of course it makes him happy to prove us wrong.

    I also find it funny and ironic that a quote from Aaron was the best you could find to describe Fisher’s heroic and great play. 🙂

    Derek Fisher is an old warrior. Most of the time he just seems old, but he knows how to to pick his battles, and he can still “flip the switch” when he has to. That’s probably what makes him such a divisive character, that when he isn’t the game-winning hero taking on three Celtic bigs by himself and getting the bucket (Fish food!), he really truly stinks. He has no middle ground.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with him and Steve Blake as the season goes on.

  3. Three levels of clutch in play here:

    1. The forced, lucky clutch play (0.4)

    2. The make the open shot clutch play (Utah, second 3 v Orlando)

    3. The make a play and take the blame if you fail clutch play. (Celtics Game 3, Orlando first 3)

    Fisher has actually been evolving through these three stages, reaching stage 3 last year and really coming alive this year in Celts game 3. Really impressive stuff, and also shows the trust that Kobe has in him.

  4. Good times. I will admit (sheepishly) that watching Fish repeatedly create off the dribble in that 4th quarter had my heart in my throat- Derek Fisher and dribble-drive layups don’t have a strong correlation.

    But he was hitting everything, and capped off one hell of a gutsy performance by somehow driving the ball into the teeth of 3 Celtics- I remember saying “Hm, KG looked slow there…wait, is Fish in front of their entire defense? GOOO FISH!!!!”

  5. Wow, I’d never seen the floor-angle photo of this play. Amazing perspective on an unbelievable shot.

    Just wondering, though. What’s the deal with Paul Pierce’s “Saturday Night Fever” pose trailing the action?

  6. Jodial,

    I was thinking the same thing about Pierce. His “moves” are even more hilarious in the video.

  7. LOL @ Pierce pose in the picture and his little hop in the video. It’s like he thought he could block the shot from twenty feet away using only the power of his flailing limbs

  8. 7 – Haha I saw Pierce and I was thinking the same thing. It looks like he’s trying to put a hex on Fisher from 20 feet away.

    Mimsy’s right, the Fisher-Blake dynamic will be interesting to watch this year. For the first time, Fisher will be facing a player who has the requisite skill set and basketball IQ to rip his starting job away from him. Fisher is also one of the most competitive men in the NBA. I think – hope – by the end of the season that Blake is the one playing the majority of minutes at the spot, as he should be able to do most of what Fish can, and better. But it’ll be fun to see if this becomes a mentor-mentee relationship, with Fisher slowly ceding his minutes, or more of a battle for PT among our two starting-caliber PGs.

  9. @ 7- Either way its going to be a lot of fun! I feel as though Fisher has been waiting for someone worthy of him to impart his vast basketball knowledge. And Steve Blake may be just that guy! I’ve loved Blake since Maryland and thought that he would be a worthy pg for the Lakers, and now he will get his chance to prove me right! Ha!

  10. Derek is a great guy that I appreciated all last season–and many seasons before. I’m ready to watch Derek help develop the Lakers team throughout the coming season just as he has done in seasons past as the Lakers starting PG.

    I’m certain that the Lakers envisage a major backup role for Blake next year, but don’t expect Derek to fade away.

    In case you forget to notice his roles developing during the regular season–and don’t remember the Youtubes that Darius posted, Derek will somehow remind you when the playoffs come around. . . . .

  11. I want that picture in a frame for my office.

  12. hahaha! i just noticed in almost every basket fisher made in that 4th quarter one of the celtics fell on the ground. what a bunch of pussies they lost their toughness from 08

  13. That is an awesome picture. I want to blow it up so I can see Kobe’s expression more clearly 😉

  14. You know technically 4 celtics tried to block Derek when he went up for that lay up in the fourth. Kevin. Ray. Big Baby…. and wait was that Paul? hahah stupid hop by mr. pierce

  15. Man the ABC crew really let that Fisher dagger fast break moment get away. It was such a pivotal play and they did not do it justice. Yeah, it was spur of the moment and surprised the entire Celtics team so it’s not surprising it surprised the announcers too. But I can’t help thinking that Chick or even the NBC crew (Marv Albert?) could have done a much better job.

  16. Looking back at Phil’s history with veteran Laker PGs, I’d be shocked if Fish gave up his starting job this season. Ron Harper held the starting job long after it was clear he wasn’t the best PG on the team. Phil also favored Brian Shaw the player well past the point where his athletic ability dictated he get major minutes.

    It just seems that Phil prizes experience, leadership and knowledge of the triangle in his PGs over athletic ability or shooting accuracy. Blake will probably get 25 min a game by the end of the year, but I can’t imagine him starting while Fish is healthy.

  17. Great post. I have been a firm believer of D. Fish since he came back to LA. I remember a topic that was posted here at FBG 2-3 years ago about D. Fisher entitled “Appreciate while it last” ( I dont know if I got the exacttitle for the topic), when I read that article I stood by fish and appreciated his value to the team even if he was playing crap in last years regular season games.

  18. Great post…

    Who did Kobe level with an elbow against Orlando before kicking the ball out to Fish? They call that a foul and who knows how the series ends up?

    I see no problem with Fish and Blake. Blake is fully competent, I would guess thrilled to be here, and Fish is no dummy-he’ll see it for what it is, a chance to limit his minutes over the grind of an entire season…

  19. Fish got fouled on every play except for one in that Celtics game. Amazing how much the refs let go in the championship round.

  20. They could have called a foul on Kobe there, but it looks like the defender ran his face into Kobe’s elbow at least as much as Kobe threw his elbow at the guy’s face.

  21. Man, Fisher was so monstrous in that 4th quarter.

  22. Yeah, we may need to revisit this post next season, during parts of it, to remind ourselves what Fisher means to the Lakers in the Playoffs. That is ironic that Aaron has the best comment to finish this post with, I really did like it when he posted it in that comment thread, he was right on.

  23. Why did the men in white keep falling over in that last video? Was there a sniper in the building?

  24. Re: the Kobe elbow in the Orlando game, after it happened I watched that about 15 times in slow motion just to be sure I wasn’t being a homer. Jameer Nelson ran up to Kobe and with his (Nelson’s) momentum coming forward, Nelson put his right foot between Kobe’s legs, his left forearm on Kobe’s torso, his right hand on Kobe’s left arm, and brings his face into Kobe’s right elbow as Kobe makes a tight vertical pivot. The no-call was absolutely correct. Everytime a player gets hit in the head viewers will instinctively think there should be a foul call on the other player, but in this case Nelson was clearly responsible for initiating the contact by bringing his whole body right up into Kobe’s space. Put it this way, if the contact had instead been Kobe’s elbow against Nelson’s shoulder (with the action otherwise being identical) it would have looked like an obvious foul on Nelson.

    Which is not so say that refs don’t get this wrong a lot of the time and the non-call was in fact very important to the Laker victory. Even though the Lakers ended up winning the series 4-1, it was a really tense situation. The Lakers were lucky to have escaped with the win in Game 2 and had played a very poor Game 3. Who knows what would have happened if Fisher hadn’t come up so clutch in Game 4 and Orlando had tied the series. Orlando would have had all the momentum and Game 5 on their home court.

  25. Thats called a Boston triple whiff!! Shots out to Ark. Little rock former players(like me) who get the job done, but do not worry about the accolades!! The man is a true STUD!!! Without him, where would the RINGS be??!! WE DA BEST!!! WHOOO?? WE!!!(LAKER SHOW)

  26. Pierce ran down the court and yelled to his teamates….”HE SHOOTIN!! HE SHOOTIN”!!” Another guarantee/prediction that blew up in his face!!

  27. One more. The fisherKING twilights as an UNDERTAKER and hammers two huge NAILS in the c’s COFFIN.

  28. I was at the Dodgers game when that play happened, taking as much time as possible at the beer stand to catch the game on the TV. When Fish hit that shot the whole stadium got louder than it did at any point during the Dodger victory. Everybody in the stands was trying to figure out what happened and could see all the Laker faithful cheering in the bar.

  29. The 3 with about 6:00 to play in Game 7 2010. Both coaches said it was the biggest shot of the game.

    My feeling is that as long as Fish doesn’t decline to the point that he is clearly costing the Lakers wins during the season that affect home court and all that, he has tremendous value. He knows where to be in the Triangle, can hit from deep, and is not afraid of failure, Kobe, the press, or anything. His track record speaks for itself.

  30. Have you ever considered including videos to your website posts to have the readers more entertained? What i’m saying is I just went through the whole write-up and it was quite great but since I am much more of a visual learner, I found that way to be far more helpful. well, let me know what you think.