With 3.9 seconds to go in a must-win game and down one, wide open Derek Fisher makes that shot—point, blank, period. The Lakers did not just let a golden opportunity slip away Wednesday night, they may have just lost their only chance to win the series as well.
Now there is plenty of basketball left to be played and anything can happen, but let us be honest: Things look bleak. This was not suppose to happen, and per the media and some Lakers fans, Ramon Sessions was the missing piece and everything the Lakers needed—except he had not been a champion on any level.
When the Lakers have needed him most, Sessions has returned to his true form—now L.A. is stuck with perennial back-up Steve Blake to close out games. Gone are the clutch shots that were forgotten when fans cheered for Sessions’ forays to the basket. The Lakers have never been a regular-season team and, in turn, some of their greatest role players struggled through the regular season.
However, when called upon, they delivered—especially Fisher. In life we tend to focus on the 20 percent of what we are missing instead of enjoying the 80 percent of what we have. Fisher was a proven veteran who always delivered, while Sessions is a penetrator who is turnover-prone and devoid of any mid-range game.
Most of all, Sessions does not have the heart of a champion, and anyone who denies that at this point is not even worth talking to.
To be clear, Sessions is a good ball player, but he is not what the Lakers needed—Fisher was what the Lakers needed. There is a reason Jerry West drafted Derek Fisher and Jim Buss traded for Sessions. In short, real recognized real and West saw the heart of a warrior in Fisher, while Buss saw the 20 percent of what Fisher lacked.
Sessions has been exactly what he has always been throughout his career, and does not deserve the backlash that is building because of his struggles. The point guard has never been a great player and should not have been asked to perform like one now. The point guard has never been a decent defender, let alone capable of staying in front of the game’s best, and he should not be asked to do that now.
Lastly, he has never been a good shooter and never has he been clutch, so one should never have expected that from him now. Fisher proved he would always be there to shine in L.A.’s darkest moments.
Regardless of the arena or time on the clock, the guy who was too slow and never fully appreciated, nailed that shot. Every time Los Angeles has tried to leave Fisher, it has always come back to bite them. Yes, J.J. Barea may have gotten a contract off of his antics last postseason, but a smart man adjusts, he does not annihilate.
Yes, there were a plethora of other plays that Lakers fans will point to and say that is where we lost the game. However, for years they never had to point those fingers because Fisher made those shots. For years, Lakers fans snatched victory from the grasp of defeat because of a Fisher last-second shot.
Champions are not easily obtained and champions are never replaced. Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake are younger and faster, and at this stage of their careers, are better penetrators than what the Lakers used to have—no one doubts that.
But younger and faster never equals better. In sports, it is never about what you can do, rather always what you will do. With 3.9 seconds left in the game and the series on the line, Derek Fisher will make
that shot. He always did and always will.