Their fistfuls of fine jewelry prove just how far the two guards have come since the phenom from Philadelphia and the unknown from somewhere or other in Arkansas made Jerry West look awfully smart 14 years ago.
And while Bryant has never steered far from the NBA’s high profile spotlight, Fisher seems most comfortable hoisting big shots in even bigger games. These two draft class chums will forever be linked by their sparkling similarities.
Both men, no longer spring chickens as they’ve crossed the dreaded 30-something threshold, have enjoyed the fruits of success throughout their long, prosperous professional careers.
Bryant’s run stands the test of time, as he’s officially crossed over into the elite, first name only bases offered to greats like Larry, Magic, and Michael.
In the pantheon of Lakers legends, Fisher’s name falls under the B flight, the second class, the bit players who make things go.
Catchy nicknames, cushy endorsements, and rabid autograph seekers have mostly looked past the undersized lefty, who refused to burn out or fade away as the years passed.
Sound logic says Derek Fisher shouldn’t be here celebrating yet another NBA title. Not bad for a second banana.
Why should folks envy the quiet perimeter shooter? Let’s count the ways.
In case you missed it, the bearded one nailed the biggest momentum-shifting bucket in Game Seven of the NBA Finals last Thursday.
Fisher stepped right out of the locker room and into a three-pointer that nearly brought the house down at Staples Center.
After spending a brief stint surrounded by team trainers, the veteran’s clutch bomb drew LA even with their Boston counterparts.
The shot, equal parts beauty and befuddlement, spent more time in the air than a Ray Guy punt. Carl Lewis could have sprinted from baseline to baseline while the ball traveled from Fisher’s fingertips to the round rim.
Thank goodness the overhanging scoreboard didn’t pose a threat.
While the Spalding took its dear sweet time, the bottom of the hoop wasn’t one to judge. The Lakers carried themselves as the better team from that moment on.
Throw in his out of this world Game Three, where the workhorse almost single handedly picked Boston apart in front of their home crowd, and D-Fish earns another crunch time medal of merit.
Fisher, who offered a few tears of joy in the ensuing post-game interview, deserved his moment in the spotlight after a trying year, filled with injuries, inconsistent shooting, and whispers of a changing of the guard for LA.
Well, what options do the Lakers decision makers have now?
The team keeps climbing the mountain. Fisher adds his spectacular personal touch when LA needs it most. Why mess with a good thing?
At 36, almost a bag of bones by NBA standards, and presumably heading into the tail end of his playing career, Fisher still has plenty going for him.
The man’s age may rise, but his physique tells a different story. Fisher’s muscles still span from his eyelids to his toe nails.
If basketball doesn’t pan out, he has the build to fight an MGM Grand undercard. He’d turn muggers into mush with a few well placed left hooks, although his cool, quiet persona gives off a professional, nice guy vibe.
Reporters looking to smear Fisher’s image would be hard pressed to find a relevant quote. Teammates and players around the league only demonstrate the utmost respect for their peer.
He probably doesn’t need the game at this point.
Fisher, smart as a whip and prepared as can be, could succeed in any other forum. His leadership skills and measured intelligence already serve him well on the court, and he’d be a sight to see in a conference room.
There’s a high paying NBA job for Fisher in the near future, whether it be as a coach or a league executive. His health, his brains, his rings, and his family are all there.
Could Fisher have envisioned any of this as a second fiddle rookie back in the mid 90s? Were his dreams anywhere close to what’s become the real thing?
The world is in Derek Fisher’s hands. He doesn’t need the Lakers, but they sure need him. In a profession where most players dread life’s next step once their glory days disappear, the five time NBA Champion likely can’t wait for the newest chapter.
Good for you, D-Fish.