Fish Gets Physical

Derek FisherDerek Fisher is in his fourth-straight year without missing a single game due to injury.

How about that?

It’s one of those statistics that gets not near enough credit or attention, but before we explore it any further, let’s go ahead and knock on wood a few times. Did you do it? Thanks.

Anyways, after coming upon that fact, I wanted to ask Fisher if anything’s changed in his preparation for a season and for games since he began his pro career in 1996. So before the Lakers took on the Mavericks Tuesday night in Dallas, I chatted with Fisher as he headed out for pregame warmups.

MT: What’s changed in your preparation from your rookie year until now?
Fisher: I think the biggest thing that’s changed in being a 22-year-old rookie to a 34-year-old veteran is physical. I’ve always mentally tried to prepare myself for who we were playing and the guys we match up against, but physical preparation has always been key for me. My personal trainer and I have come up with some things in the last few years to physically prepare me to play the game, making sure that everything is firing good and ready to go, that’s been really key for me. I’ve really enjoyed that process and it’s worked well for me.

MT: Obviously your body doesn’t respond the same way as it once did, when you barely had to warm up…
Fisher: As you get older and you play as many games as I have, and Kobe has and other guys that have been around for a long time, the body starts to wear. It takes a little bit longer to get the fireplace on each year that goes by, and preparation keeps you from having some of those nagging injuries and strains that require you to miss time and being away from the team. Going into my fourth year without missing a game due to injury at all, I (feel good) about my methods. It’s been an educational process for me, and I feel like I can continue to get better because of it. Just because I’m 34 doesn’t mean I have to ride off into the sunset. I feel like I can make major contributions to the team, and that’s what being on a team is all about.

In short, Fisher trains both hard and smart, and has a very specific plan to build muscle and take care of his body so that the toll of the 82+ game season keeps him on the court. Prior to games is never the time to have extended conversations with players since they’re trying to prepare, so I didn’t ask Fish for specifics about his routine. But, hopefully, we’ll get to that soon.

What was interesting to me Tuesday night is that Fisher struggled with his jumper throughout the game that started an hour after our conversation, making just 1-of-8 shots. But he managed to come up with four defensive rebounds, including the biggest board of the game in the final seconds, and added three assists and two steals. Often times it’s been his shot that’s given L.A. a big lift, but the point is that Fisher’s ability to keep himself in such fantastic shape (coupled with his hoops IQ) puts him in a good position to help his team in one way or another. And that’s his whole plan.

Clearly he’s onto something.

OK, time to go find a tree to knock on.