Derek Fisher wrapped up an 18 year career last week (Presumption: Fisher has not officially announced his retirement) after his Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs in 6 games of the Western Conference Finals. Uncharacteristic of how the season has gone, Fisher played 32 minutes in his final game which is the most he has played in a playoff game in 3 years.
Fisher finished the game with a line of 5 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. Similar to his last game of his career Fisher has had very little impact this season for the Thunder and in the last few years which includes a short stint in Dallas.
There have been much better times for Fisher than the uneventful years that he has experienced since being traded by the Lakers to the Houston Rockets in 2012. While Fisher will not garner any Hall of Fame consideration, he has definitely left a lasting mark in both the NBA and most certainly Los Angeles Lakers history. Great leadership, dedication, toughness and his ability to deliver in the biggest moments is what highlights Fisher’s time in the NBA; we take a look at 10 of the greatest moments of Derek Fisher’s great career.
10. Becomes the NBA career leader in playoff games
Earlier in these playoffs when Fisher checked-in to the game against the Memphis Grizzlies on April, 29th he became the NBA all-time career leader in playoff game appearances with 245, passing former Lakers teammate Robert Horry. Fisher would go on to add to his career leading total and finished with 259 playoff games. Fisher played on teams that qualified for the playoffs in every season except 2, which were the years he spent with the Golden State Warriors.
9. Game winner vs. Mavs; last in a Lakers uniform
Fisher had made a career of hitting big shots and he added another one to his long list by knocking down a game winning 3 pointer against the Dallas Mavericks on January 16th, 2012. What made this particular game winner so memorable was that it was his last in a purple and gold uniform. Fisher was traded to the Houston Rockets for Jordan Hill just 2 months after his shot, ending his Lakers career.
8. Clutch 3 in game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals
In a game where the Lakers trailed the Boston Celtics for most of the the deciding game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals and by as many as 13 in the 2nd half, it was Fisher’s 3 point shot with 6:11 remaining in the 4th quarter that finally got the Lakers even with the Celtics at 64 all. The Lakers would go on to take the lead and never relinquish it, leading to Fisher’s 5th NBA title. Fisher finished the game with 10 points and one of the few Lakers that shot well, shooting 4 for 6 from the field and 2 for 2 from behind the 3.
7. The Speech that fueled the 2010 championship run
The Lakers had been floundering, losing 7 of their last 11 games to close out the 2009-10 season. Doing what Fisher had done many times before, he identified the need to gather the troops and delivered a motivational speech before the start of the start of the playoffs and their title defense. The exact words of the speech were never released, but all of the players acknowledged that it had a great effect in preparing them for their first round match up against the Thunder and putting them in the correct mindset for their playoff run. Mark Medina of the L.A. Times wrote an article about the impact of the Fisher’s speech and provided some quotes from players in how it affected them. Being fueled by Fisher’s words of inspiration, the Lakers went on to win the NBA championship that season, beating the Boston Celtics in 7 games.
6. Laying out Scola
In the best example that Fisher will do anything that is necessary to win, even getting his hands dirty, we look back to game 2 of the semi-finals series against the Houston Rockets in 2009. The Lakers having just lost game one of the series and being annoyed by the very physical and pesky front line of Ron Artest, Yao Ming and Luis Scola who was the main irritant with his very hard screens, Fisher took it upon himself to send a message to the Rockets. In the closing seconds of the 3rd quarter Fisher absolutely levels Luis Scola who was attempting to set a screen for Aaron Brooks. Fisher was ejected for the football style hit on Scola and cost him the following game as well. Fisher returned in game 4 and the Lakers went on to close out the Rockets in 7 games.
5. Playing big with a heavy heart
The Utah Jazz were up 1-0 in their semi-finals match up against the Golden State Warriors of the 2007 NBA playoffs. Derek Fisher missed game 1 of the series due to being by the side of his daughter in New York who was undergoing eye surgery to treat a form of cancer. Following the successful surgery, Fisher flies from New York to Salt Lake City for game 2, arriving late in the 3rd quarter and makes the dramatic entrance. With everything that had gone on in day with this family, somehow Fisher is able to clear his mind and hit a huge 3 pointer in overtime that put away the game for the Jazz. Fisher scores 5 points in 9 minutes of regulation and overtime, helping the Jazz beat the Warriors, 127-117.
4. Fisher’s career game helps Lakers sweep Spurs
Derek Fisher had the best game of his life at the best possible time. Fisher scored a career high 28 points on a scorching hot 11 for 13 from the field in game 4 of the 2001 Western Conference Finals against the Spurs which helped the Lakers complete a 4 game sweep. Fisher was absolutely on fire from deep in the game, knocking down 6 of 7 from behind the 3 point line.
The 2001 playoffs was Fisher’s coming out party where he was a huge part of the Lakers historic, dominating run in the playoffs where they went 15-1, a record winning percentage that still stands today. Fisher averaged 13.4 points per game, which was behind only Shaq and Kobe, and shot a team best 51.5 percent from the 3 point line in the playoffs. The 28 point game by Fisher remained his Lakers career high.
3. Game 3 versus Boston in the 2010 Finals
In the pivotal game 3 of the 2010 NBA Finals, Derek Fisher comes up huge. The series was tied 1 game a piece and the Lakers were starting the first of 3 straight games in Boston. The Lakers needing to take game 3 Fisher delivers, scoring 11 points in the critical 4th quarter which includes the amazing play in the closing minute where Fisher goes coast to coast after a Celtics missed shot, beating the entire Celtics team and scoring a lay up and getting the foul that put the game away for the Lakers. Game 3 proved to be vital for the Lakers in the series as they went on to lose the remaining games in Boston, putting the Lakers in a must win situation for the final two games of the series back in Los Angeles.
2. Game 4 versus Orlando in the 2009 Finals
Fisher hit 2 of his biggest clutch shots in his career in game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic. With the Lakers trailing by 3 points with 4.6 seconds remaining in the game, Fisher nails a 3 pointer to tie the game and take the game to overtime. Fisher wasn’t done there, hitting another big 3 in OT with 31.3 seconds remaining, helping the Lakers beat the Magic 99-91 and take a commanding 3 to 1 lead in the series. The Lakers finished off the Magic in game 5 and won the 2009 NBA championship, their first since 2002.
In the history of sports, there are certain plays that are so iconic, so memorable that they are known simply by a few words. In the case of Fisher’s greatest moment in his NBA career, it’s a fraction of second: point-four. One reason that this play is so extraordinary was the improbability of the shot. NBA rules state that a player cannot catch and shoot a ball in less than 0.3 seconds and Fisher had only one-tenth more than what the NBA had deemed physically impossible to execute.
Second reason why we will always remember point-four is the drama created by the shot that preceded it. Tim Duncan had just put the Spurs up by 1 with a off balance shot at the top of the key, leaving only the famous 0.4 seconds on the clock. The game winning shot put the Lakers up 3-2 in the semi-finals series and the Lakers closed out the Spurs in the following game at home.
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Writer & NBA fan who’s been hooked since the days of Magic v Bird. Love basketball debates without it ending in a knife fight. My BBall nickname: “Todo El Dia” (All Day.) Hit me up on Twitter @fullcourtfern or Instagram: @raining3sdotcom