Derek Fisher: Exit Interview

blog_090616derekfisherFor the fourth consecutive season, Derek Fisher appeared in all 82 regular season games, but for the first time since 2002, his campaign ended with a championship.

In the regular season, Fisher averaged 9.9 points, 3.2 assists and 1.16 steals while shooting 42.4 percent from the field, 84.6 percent from the charity stripe and a team-leading 39.7 percent from three-point territory. In 22 postseason starts (Fisher missed one game due to suspension), he averaged 8.0 points, 2.2 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 0.95 steals on 39.4 percent from the floor, 28.4 percent from three and 86.1 percent from the free throw line.

Though he struggled early in the playoffs with his shooting, Fisher found his touch when it counted, hitting 43.8 percent of his triples in the NBA Finals, included the two massive triples that tied and beat the Magic in Game 4.

Here are some highlights of his season-ending press conference:

- His open: “Even with all the ups and the downs, times we looked like we could be champions and times that we didn’t, I was just looking back with Mitch (Kupchak) and Phil (Jackson)* on how much fun it was to win this year. We really did it as a group.”
*In their season-ending meeting that preceded his presser.

- Fisher said this championship felt like No. 1 to him because of how much has happened since 2002, how many things he and his teammates have had to push through.

- Fisher wouldn’t say it outright, but implied that he’d be surprised if Phil Jackson didn’t come back: “It’s for him to say but we did talk about the future. I didn’t get the feeling leaving that he wasn’t going to be my coach next season. As you guys know and as I’ve learnd, the card that he’s showing you (isn’t) necessarily the one that he’s going to play … For all intents and purposes, we have a collection of players here (and the) veteran leadership of Kobe and myself, (so) he can feel good about the ability to coach this team. All the work isn’t on him to try and help this team continue to grow.”

- Fisher pointed out that General Manager Mitch Kupchak has not gotten enough credit for building this team.

- When asked if any perspective on his huge Game 4 three-pointers has settled in at this point: “No it really hasn’t. I had to pinch myself yesterday.” Fisher said he saw a Los Angeles Times column that had him ranked twice in the franchise’s all-time Top 5 shots: “I’m on here twice…” Thinking about my life and what I’ve been through… It’s just hard to put into perspective for a guy from Little Rock, Arkansas.”

- When asked how much Kobe Bryant has changed since the two came into the league together, Fisher acknowledged that Bryant “Lets more people in but still keeps the same competitive edge, desire and fire to be the best player on the court and on the planet.” Fisher cited Kobe’s role as a father and husband for his growth as a person which was evident with his change as a leader, but ultimately, he said that Bryant “Lives in a place where he wants to be the best to have ever done this … That’s all he strives for.” Surely that’s not a fire that many people in the entire world have regardless of profession, and Fisher said he has ultimate respect for that.