The Lakers recently announced the re-signing of their starting point guard Derek Fisher for a reported $10.5 million over 3 years with a player option for the third year.
Fisher reportedly met with Pat Riley to discuss joining the new 'super team' in Miami, leaving some fans with a bad taste in their mouths at the mere hint of him following the same path as 'The King' and turning his back on his home fans of 11 years.
Derek has a family and is nearing the end of his career, so it makes sense that he would explore all options to secure his family's financial future.
While many casual Lakers fans were not worried whether Fisher returned or not, it is the more astute fan who realizes how important he actually is to the organization that drafted him with the 24th pick of the first round way back in 1996.
Apart from brief stints at Golden State and Utah , Derek Fisher has played his whole career with Kobe Bryant at the Los Angeles Lakers. They are like brothers.
D Fish's playoff heroics and clutch shooting are well documented, so I'm not even going to go there. What I am interested in, is his presence and the leadership he brings to the Lakers.
Whilst Kobe is the un-disputed king of the Lakers organization, it is Derek Fisher who is the general.
After losing home court advantage against the Denver Nuggets in last years Western conference finals, they found themselves down 8 points heading into the 4th quarter of game 3, and staring down the barrel of a 2-1 series deficit. It was Fisher's inspirational speech to his teammates that changed the momentum of that game and perhaps the series.
Despite struggling all night on both ends of the floor, D Fish knew he had one thing his teammates didn't. Some would call it wisdom, others would call it experience, but I'll call it soul. He was asked post game what he had said to his teammates; "I told them, this was a moment in time when you can define yourself," Fisher said. "I told them, this was a moment when you can step into that destiny."
A similar thing happened in this years playoffs, where the Lakers found themselves in an almost identical position, having given up home court advantage to the Celtics and squandering an early 12 point lead in game 3. The Lakers called a time out early in the 4th quarter with the game in the balance and a raucous home court crowd providing the Celtics with all the momentum.
Sensing the importance of the moment, D Fish delivered another inspirational speech to his teammates. Not just satisfied leading with his words, he went on to take the game by the scruff of the neck and scored 11 huge points in the 4th, setting up the win for the Lakers.
In fact this has been a recurring theme throughout D Fish's career. While he has never set the world on fire with statistics or individual accolades, there are many times when he has been the MVP on his team, even if only for brief periods.
There are also things he brings to the game that can’t be measured in stats. For example, if taking charges was the most important stat in the NBA, then D Fish would be MVP every year.
On May 9th 2007 , Derek Fisher gave us a reason to stand up and cheer. On the way to helping the Utah Jazz make the playoffs it was discovered that his baby daughter Tatum had developed a rare form of cancer (retinoblastoma) in her eye that would prove fatal without immediate attention. So while the Jazz were battling the Golden State Warriors in the second round, D Fish was in NY with his daughter as she underwent treatment to remove the cancer.
After finding out that operation was a success and his daughter was stable, D Fish boarded a plane and rushed to Utah where he quickly changed and emerged to a deafening roar from the crowd just after half time. With the game in the balance, Fish hit a huge 3 pointer in over time that sealed the win for the jazz, as he has so many times throughout his career. Afterwards, Fisher was photographed pointing to the heavens and saying thank you.
Derek Fisher’s most valuable asset to a team like the Lakers; that is loaded with talent both on the offensive and defensive ends, is not physical.
When Kobe is having an off shooting night; who has the cajones to say no when he demands the ball? Only one man.
When the Lakers are in trouble in a crucial game and need Kobe to perform at the highest level; who can get in his ear and tell him what he needs to hear. Only one man.
It is this same man who just completed the team once again. After suffering through a similar situation last year, where most Laker fans were sweating on news of Lamar Odom re-signing, we can finally relax.
Derek Fisher is a key component in the Lakers search for basketball immortality next season, as they chase a 3 peat against possibly the most stacked team the league has ever seen in Miami (although it remains to be seen who will fill out the rest of their roster).
Make no mistake, without D Fish the task would have been that much harder.