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Derek Fisher Weighs In

D071725007.jpgWhat’s the best way to figure out the general mood of the Lakers locker room?

That’s easy.

Have a chat with Derek Fisher.

What follows is a conversation we had after Monday’s practice, and below that selected postgame comments from Fish after L.A.’s Tuesday evening win against Toronto:

MT: The three-game losing streak was, of course, not exactly what you had in mind. But it doesn’t seem to have affected the team’s confidence in the larger picture…
Fisher: No, (that’s right), but right now I don’t think it’s about confidence. It’s about doing things out on the floor. In some respects, because we still carry so much confidence, we’re still maybe not pressing (the pedal) to the mat in terms of the sense of urgency that we’ve shown in some games. We haven’t been able to stretch that out over two, three weeks, and that’s tough to do in the NBA season. That’s tough to do after experiencing what we have. We lost in the Finals in 2008, won in 2009 and we’re on a quest to win another title. That’s a lot of basketball, it’s a long three-year process, so you’re going to have some ups and downs. But if we can stay healthy and continue to get healthier, we feel OK in terms of where we’ll to be. We still want to have home court advantage in the West, and having (it) overall would be the best of both worlds.

59783005MT: It seems that in many games – especially of late – you’ve been getting the respective best shots other teams have to offer. How would you describe it?
Fisher: I think that’s true in some cases, and I think some teams have gotten better from last season. But also in particular on the road, where it has impacted us to be honest is the fact that some teams have been hit by lower attendance numbers, but when we show up the building is sold out, everybody in the city is talking about the game the whole week. So the pride, the competitive nature and intensity of the team we’re playing that night is also going to go up. So then they go from being a good and competitive team to maybe playing great that night. And since we’re not playing the best that we can play at this point – not that we won’t be playing our best basketball – we haven’t been able to really counter act that. We still like where we are considering everything that we’ve been through, but we just want to get things going back in a more positive direction.

MT: How do you put the rigors of the regular season in perspective, and balance internal and external expectations?
Fisher: It’s a combination of two things. We aren’t necessarily satisfied or OK with how we’re playing or with the results in particular with the last month and a half, close to two months. We just haven’t played good, consistent basketball. I think that’s one piece of it, in terms of our own expectations. And the other piece is, when you are the champions there is a certain level of expectation externally that comes with it. So when you’re going good, everybody’s rolling with you. When you’re not, everybody has things to say. It’s a part of the process, and when you’re here long enough, you figure it out.

Fisher’s postgame comments from Tuesday night’s win over Toronto:

When the giant appears vulnerable or there’s a chink in the armor or there is an open wound, people have a tendency to go at that. Thus far we haven’t come across as invincible or unbeatable, so of course teams are going to believe that they can win … How we play, with efficiency, focus, concentration, that’s what teams need to feel … We’re not playing at the level that we’re capable of playing. I don’t know exactly why – I think you could point to a number of different things – but I think we’re all confident and optimistic that we can figure it out, and we’re going to stay the course.

Fisher Six Points From 9,000

After scoring 11 points against Golden State on Tuesday, Derek Fisher moved to within six points of 9,000 for his career.

With the Lakers, Fisher has scored 6,202 points to vault past Wilt Chamberlain (5,985) into 17th place in franchise history. Next up for Fish is Elden Campbell (16th, 6,408).

Fisher Beats Bryant to 1,000 … By a Game

Derek FisherThe Lakers acquired Kobe Bryant, the 13th pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, by trading Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets. Eleven picks later, they selected Derek Fisher.

Fast forward to February 10, 2010, and both players entered a Wednesday evening game in Utah with 999 career games played.

How about that?

“I didn’t realize it until someone told me today,” said Fisher. “I probably won’t say anything to Kobe just yet … but at some point, I’m definitely going to give him a hard time about it.”

Bryant would have become the first to 1,000 had he played in Portland or against San Antonio, but a sprained ankle kept him out of both contests, the first he had missed since Dec. 8, 2006.

All Fisher had to do to catch up was play in literally every game since April 13 of the 2004-05 season, when he missed a game for the Golden State Warriors with knee inflammation. Since then, he’s appeared in 384 consecutive games, and finally Fisher has one up on Kobe.

“It’s one thing I can say I did before him,” said Fisher. “He’s been the fastest to everything else.”

How has Fisher done it? Lakers Director of Athletic Performance Chip Schaefer needed just one word to describe it: “Dedication.”

Then he added a few more.

“He’s dedicated to a set of principals and a way to live his life that include proper rest and recovery, proper nutrition, hydration and a nutrient-based diet, training and preparing mentally,” said Schaefer. “For a trainer, he’s just the best. It’s all you can ask for.”

Lakers Excited to Meet President Obama

Before the results to the 2008 Presidential election became official on Nov. 4 of that year, many of the Lakers players were almost as plugged into the outcome as they were the team scouting reports heading into NBA Finals seven months later.

Then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama won in November, and the Lakers followed suit by defeating Orlando in Game 5 in June to secure not just the NBA title, but a trip to the White House to meet the President seven months later a day before L.A.’s Tuesday night game against Washington.

Among Obama’s numerous supporters within the NBA community is Derek Fisher, who relayed his and his team’s sentiments about Monday’s meet and greet prior to L.A.’s Sunday evening game in Toronto.

“We’re all excited about it,” said Fisher. “It’s one of those rare times in an individual lifetime where there is an election or an event that changes the course of the next 30, 40, 50 years.

“A lot of people, including us, feel like President Obama’s election was one of those moments. So to be the first team that gets to actually go and meet him, see the White House and be apart of the entire event is pretty cool.”

Fisher’s backup, Jordan Farmar, expressed similar feelings.

“I’m really excited,” he noted. “I’ve never been to the White House, and being a guest there will be special.“

Farmar actually had a chance to introduce President Obama before a speech in Newport Beach in the summer of 2008, and said he jumped at the opportunity after his agent set up the details.

“It was really special, and President Obama was really cool,” said Farmar, who spoke to Obama for about 15 minutes before the speech. “We talked basketball right away; we had just lost to Boston in the Finals then, but we’ll have something better to talk about this time.”

Yet in his haste to pack for L.A.’s eight-game road trip (three down, five to go), Farmar forgot to pack a suit to wear to the ceremony.

“I had to go get one made (Sunday in Toronto),” he said. “You can’t just go to the White House in jeans and a t-shirt.”

Fortunately, Farmar’s suit was delivered during the game in Toronto; he certainly couldn’t afford to be less than sharp as the first team in what is a predominantly African American professional league met the country’s first African American President.

“A lot of us never thought we would see this day,” said Farmar, who like Obama comes from a bi-racial background. “I feel very special to be apart of it and to have the chance to share this with my teammates – we all get along and really care about each other, so it’s really meaningful.”

One of those teammates, Lamar Odom, responded immediately to a locker room question about his favorite president.

“President Obama, in a land slide,” he said before offering some perspective. “My grandmother was born in Georgia in 1923 … A lot of people coming up didn’t have hope … I’m looking forward to going tomorrow and meeting him face-to-face.”

While Odom joked that he also loved Obama because he was a fellow lefty, his eyes sparkled a bit as he imagined taking a photo with the President.

“Just having that picture in my house in Queens where I was born and raised … that will be a big deal to my family.”

Fish’s Triple vs. Heat

Derek FIsherSomewhat lost in the shuffle of Kobe Bryant’s Friday night heroics was Derek Fisher’s three-pointer over Mario Chalmers (captured above by photographer Noah Graham) to cut the Heat’s lead to 106-105 and setting up Bryant’s buzzer beater (after Dwayne Wade made just one of two free throws).

Fisher catchs it on the right wing… defender laying off just a little too much… remind anyone of this shot?

Fisher Places Triples in Perspective

Derek FisherAs Derek Fisher explained to us the other day, he has already begun to put his historical three-point shots from Game 4 of the NBA Finals into perspective, and he is extremely appreciative for the fans to whom those bombs mean so much.

Yet in that appreciation, Fisher doesn’t want to let a solid basketball lesson fall by the wayside, which he explained after being asked how many of the youngsters attending his late-July basketball camp were jacking up threes in honor of the left-handed pain he inflicted upon the Magic. Fitting that such a student of the game doesn’t necessarily want kids putting up three after three until they’ve established a solid shooting form close to the basket, right?

In fact, Fish quipped that he’s probably heard about his shot over Jameer Nelson (sending Game 4 to overtime) too much (like that’s possible) from kids.

“It’s good and bad, but signifies how big our game is, that the kids truly try and emulate what we do,” explained the four-time NBA champion. “They see you hit a three-pointer, they want to come out behind the three-point line and throw shots up even though that’s probably not the best thing for them to be doing.”

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with catching the ball just in front of midcourt, taking a few quick dribbles, pretending to stare down Jameer Nelson and pulling up from 26-feet. Sure, it may take five … 10 … OK 50 attempts for most kids, but that’s fun. Just go ahead and shoot from the elbow afterwards, OK?

Fisher certainly practices what he preaches, since trying to count the amount of two-point shots he’s attempted while working on his game throughout his life would be like counting sales of Michael Jackson songs on iTunes in the last three weeks. It’s not that Fisher can’t remember one of the biggest shots in Lakers history as an isolated, great event; he just recognizes that 26 feet is a bit far out there.

See, Fisher can even take a question about kids putting up too many triples and turn it into a larger life lesson.

“We players have to continue to recognize that kids truly watch what we do, our movements, the decisions we make, the shoes we wear, the clothes we wear, the way we wear our hair,” L.A.’s point guard continued. “Even if we don’t necessarily actively choose to, involuntarily we still have a responsibility to do things a certain way or at least try to. I think these kids appreciate when we try to live in a way that they can look up to.”

Some well-developed perspective, right?

Fisher Checks In

Derek FisherOn June 11, Derek Fisher’s three-point bomb over Jameer Nelson in Game 4 of the NBA Finals sent L.A. into overtime, where the Lakers’ point guard nailed another dagger to seal a 99-91 victory.

On July 16, during his exit interview, Fisher had yet to put the shots in perspective.

“No it really hasn’t (sunk in),” he said. “I had to pinch myself yesterday … 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.”

It’s now been 44 days since his fateful bombs, and Fisher’s finally had some time to process the moment. He shared a few thoughts with us while taking a break from conducting his basketball camp:

I have a growing appreciation for the experiences that I’ve had in my career overall, and for this year in particular, with what the 2009 championship means to us and to the city and our fans. It continues to mold my appreciation for the history of the NBA and the Lakers, and what all the moments mean. It motivates me to work even harder this summer to try and be in a position to do it again next year, because it’s just crazy to think about those moments and how they will live on forever. I think I’m just starting to realize that. A lot of these kids that are here and a lot of these parents that have been Lakers fans for 10, 15, 20 years, those moments signify a lot of great memories in their life. For my name and things that I’ve done to be a part of that is a little bit trippy, pretty humbling, but exciting and motivating as well.

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.

Fisher, Mayor Villaraigosa Talk Parade

Four-time NBA champion Derek Fisher, flanked by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilwoman Jan Perry and Police Chief William Bratton, had a message for Lakers fans and L.A. citizens:

Have a great deal of fun in Wednesday’s parade that celebrates the team’s 15th championship … Just not too much fun.

“We feel like we win with class, and when we win we enjoy it and like to celebrate, but we have a responsibility to do it in a way that’s respectful to our community,” said Fisher. “My message is that tomorrow we (celebrate) responsibly, safely and with other people in mind, not just ourselves. We don’t want to have one person or one small group of people ruin this opportunity for us to have a great day.”

Villaraigosa and Bratton, after praising the work of Fisher and his team, echoed the captain’s sentiment of safety in celebration.

“This team has always been a symbol of pride for the City of Angels,” said Villaraigosa. “This town deserves a championship team. This is going to be a great celebration … Let’s do it in a way that respects these champions.”

Villaraigosa added that the parade alone is expected to generate some $15 million for the local economy.

Wednesday Practice Report

We had the camera set on Andrew Bynum and Derek Fisher following a modified, extra light practice day at L.A.’s El Segundo facility. While some of the younger Lakers engaged in some

Bynum talked about keeping himself in shape with extra work, his mindset heading into the second round and what limitations he’s feeling primarily due to what he says is his bulky knee brace. More than anything else, Bynum said he’s simply excited to get back on the floor and erase what was a forgettable personal series against Utah.

Fisher delved into the advantages of watching a future opponent (be it Houston or Portland), about not caring which opponent is next in line and such.

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