Derek Fisher: 'Basketball Is a Game I'm Experienced In'

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 10, 2014

Derek Fisher participates in a news conference in Tarrytown, N.Y., Tuesday, June 10, 2014. The New York Knicks hired Fisher as their new coach on Tuesday, with Phil Jackson turning to one of his trustiest former players. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

During Derek Fisher's 18-year playing career, the point guard made 259 playoff appearances. That's the equivalent of more than three entire seasons.

In other words, he's been around the basketball block. And around and around and around it.

So, the newly named New York Knicks coach, as reported by Bleacher Report's Howard Beck, isn't exactly worried about his new profession. He might not have a minute of coaching experience in his background, but he has decades invested in this business, as he told reporters at his introductory press conference Wednesday, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

Besides, Fisher isn't going at this new venture alone.

He'll have the legendary Phil Jackson to help him navigate this process. The former coach teamed with Fisher to deliver the Los Angeles Lakers five NBA championships.

Jackson, now the Knicks team president, will be around for every challenge that Fisher will encounter.

But Jackson is just one of many weapons Fisher has in his arsenal.

Fisher has life experiences to help him relate to his players. He's never held an official coach position, but waged similar wars before:

The pace of Fisher's hiring may have surprised some—he played 32 minutes in the Oklahoma City Thunder's season-ending loss May 31—but the end result really shouldn't have.

As Beck noted, Fisher had long flashed qualities that made him appear as a ready-made coach:

From his earliest days with the Lakers, Fisher emerged as a forceful leader and a skilled communicator, a calming presence amid chaos, whether in the locker room or in the huddle in a tight playoff game.

...Players saw Fisher the same way. Though he was never an All-Star, Fisher always commanded the respect of his peers, from Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal in L.A. to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Fisher remains close to Bryant and has forged a strong relationship with Durant.

In basketball vernacular, names don't get much more notable than the ones Beck laid out. Fisher, a career 8.3 points-per-game scorer, might seem completely out of his element alongside players of that ilk.

Yet, Fisher made himself comfortable in those types of environments. Never the biggest, fastest or strongest, he rarely let himself get outsmarted inside the lines. That intelligence, combined with a cool feel for the clutch, allowed him to never be overshadowed by his larger-than-life teammates.

Those same traits should lend themselves to Fisher's new sideline spot:

Fisher joins a Knicks team publicly in turmoil, but one that may look far more inviting behind closed doors.

This roster isn't perfect—and could move further from it should Carmelo Anthony bolt over the offseason—but it isn't permanent, either. New York could have nearly empty financial books for 2015, with recognizable faces like Jackson and Fisher blazing the well-stocked recruiting trail.

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

The pair can target players that fit with their vision of how a franchise should operate. History says these two have a system that can win, and affording all of those puzzle pieces shouldn't be an issue.

Just like Fisher's lack of coaching experience shouldn't be concerning, either. He's not diving into uncharted waters, he's simply approaching them from a different perspective.