Best Moments of Derek Fisher's Career Entering Final NBA Season
Guys like Derek Fisher are the reason lifetime achievement awards were invented. A five-time champion who's never made an All-Star team, the 38-year-old veteran's veteran isn't finished keeping the ends of games interesting. Not quite.
No one should be too surprised. After 17 seasons, the consummate pro has settled into a limited role. Playing spot minutes off the bench, he may be as close as today's NBA gets to a player-coach. For a young team like the Thunder, that coaching part is almost certainly where he adds the most value.
Future highlights will be few and far between, but fortunately we have a career's worth of pretty good ones. Never one to stuff the stat sheet, Fisher ranks with former-teammate Robert Horry as one of the most clutch role players we'll ever see.
Game-Winning Layup vs. LA Clippers—December 8, 2010
You'd expect most of Derek Fisher's miracle-making to happen behind the arc, and with just 3.1 seconds left in the game, the LA Clippers were probably thinking the same thing.
Fish may not be known for attacking the paint, but layups don't lie. A touch like that is deadly from any range.
Maybe the opportunity to remind the Clippers of the Lakers' boss-status summoned a little extra motivation. It was the first time Blake Griffin faced those Lakers, and Fish wasted no time introducing him to "how things work around here." The Clippers went on to steal a win from the Lakers in January, but ultimately dropped three of four to their cross-town rivals that season.
Ah, what a difference a Chris Paul makes.
As for DeAndre Jordan...so close.
Game Winner Ends Bucks-Warriors OT Thriller—March 25, 2005
Fortunately, his clutch touch didn't elude him.
Winning games in OT from well beyond the arc has to feel pretty good. Doing so in front of Warriors fans at Oracle Arena has to feel euphoric.
Fish didn't have to do much on this one, but that shouldn't detract from the fact he was still ready and fearless. His patented lack of hesitation comes in handy when there's absolutely no time to hesitate. That sixth sense for how many fractions of a second are left on the clock might help too.
Game 4 of the NBA Finals—June 11, 2009
Not all Game 4s are equal. With the Orlando Magic threatening to even a tenuous 2-1 lead in the 2009 NBA finals, the LA Lakers had precious little time to deal a devastating blow to Dwight Howard & Friends.
It's times like these you want the ball in Kobe Bryant's hands.
Most of the time, sure. It just never hurts having a backup plan, and Fisher has been one heck of a backup plan in his time. He tied the game with 4.6 seconds left in regulation, pulling up over Jameer Nelson for a trey he didn't think twice about taking.
Not even five minutes of game time later, he did it again from the top of the arc, this time putting Los Angeles up by three and up for good.
The devastating conclusion to Game 4 put a quick end to Orlando's Game 3 momentum. With a decisive 3-1 series lead, the Lakers quickly took care of business and yet another title in Game 5.
NBA Finals Game 3 vs. Boston Celtics—June 8, 2010
Derek Fisher scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter of the 2010 NBA finals, including a stretch of four-straight baskets that helped the Lakers capture the momentum from their rival Boston Celtics. LA went on to win the game 91-84 en route to a 7-game finals victory for the ages.
But it was Fish's final three points that put Game 3 away for good.
With under a minute remaining, he takes the ball coast-to-coast for an and-1 layup over three Celtics, including a hard-charging Kevin Garnett. Fisher showed nothing but poise and decisiveness under pressure, typifying the heady play for which he's known.
Game 2 of the Warriors-Jazz Semifinals—May 9, 2007
Sometimes the backstory is better than the story. With his team up three points at home in Game 2 of the 2007 Western Conference semifinals, Derek Fisher put the Utah Jazz up by three more—assuredly making the Golden State Warriors regret trading him the summer before.
Neat enough, but the kicker?
Fisher didn't even arrive to the game until late in the second half. Earlier that same morning (per Fisher's official website), his daughter had eye surgery. Fisher had already missed Game 1 in anticipation of that surgery, only narrowly making it back from New York to catch the end of Game 2.
The NBA has its fair share of guys who hit ridiculously big shots. Most of those guys attend warmups, though.
Fisher? Just give him a phone booth and a minute to put on the cape. He'll take care of the rest.
The .4 Shot—May 13, 2004
The San Antonio Spurs' Game 6 collapse in last season's NBA finals was epic to be sure, but it wasn't entirely unprecedented. They suffered a similarly unthinkable late-game demise nearly a decade earlier in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, this time at the hands of Derek Fisher.
The LA Lakers already had something of a playoff history with these Spurs. San Antonio eliminated the Lakers in 1999 and 2003, and Los Angeles returned the favor in 2001 and 2002.
Before the Lakers officially got the better of San Antonio, Fisher got the better of Tim Duncan. The shot Duncan hit with just .4 seconds remaining was itself one for the ages, a completely-contested heave that seemed nothing short of fated. Well, let's just say fate has quite the sense of humor.
With just enough time to theoretically catch and shoot the ball, Fisher turned theory into a reality. The heroics were his and his alone, but there's one very important assist you won't find in the box score according to Phil Jackson (via NBA.com): "Fish was the beneficiary of everybody focusing on Kobe."
It wouldn't be the first time.