His legacy as a Los Angeles Laker was sealed in just four tenths of a second in San Antonio back in 2004. His three championship rings already validated his status as an invaluable cog in the clockwork of the Laker dynasty that ushered in the new millennium.
Now, Derek Fisher has authored the moment that will define Kobe Bryant’s legacy and Phil Jackson’s announcement as the greatest coach in the history of the NBA.
With two flicks of his left wrist, two timely three point baskets will forever make Laker fans think of #2 as #1 in their hearts.
The 2009 NBA Finals are not yet over, but Derek Fisher has called “checkmate” against the Orlando Magic.
Phil Jackson’s blind faith in Fisher was questioned after his veteran point guard made Aaron Brooks look like he was being defended by Mel Brooks. When Fisher laid out Luis Scola and Jordan Farmar led the Lakers to victory in his absence, many wondered why Phil continued to stay the course with his aging on-court leader. As Derek continued to struggle to hit the target as if his name was Sasha Vujacic, Phil continued to lean on D-Fish knowing his championship mettle could never be substituted for Shannon Brown’s vertical leap.
After missing his first five three point attempts in game four of the NBA Finals, Derek Fisher hit two threes that silenced the sellout crowd in Orlando and critics nationwide.
The Lakers have a commanding 3-1 lead over the Orlando Magic. There is still work to be done and in typical Fisher fashion, the man voted as the president of the NBA player’s association quickly reminded his team of the year 2000.
Back in 2000, the Los Angeles Lakers had a chance to close out the Indiana Pacers in five games to win the NBA Championship. Instead, the Lakers laid an egg in game five and returned home to close out the series at Staples Center in game six.
The Lakers won the first of three consecutive titles after defeating the Pacers back in 2000. The last two were won on the road in Philadelphia and New Jersey. After losing to the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and the Boston Celtics in 2008, the Lakers are on a mission to defeat the Magic in Orlando on Sunday and bring another banner to the rafters in Staples Center.
While I was not present in the Laker locker room after their 99-91 overtime victory in Orlando, I’m sure Fisher’s message was something along these lines: We want to return to Los Angeles for a parade and not for practice.
The Lakers defeated three opponents in Orlando in game four: The Magic, the crowd and the referees.
The first half saw Orlando jump out to a twelve point halftime lead. The Lakers quieted the raucous crowd with a 30-14 third quarter, yet by some miracle of all miracles the Orlando Magic managed to play a flawless fourth quarter by not committing a single foul.
While many picked the Magic to live up to their name and defeat the Lakers, it was Los Angeles who had a trick up their sleeves.
Trevor Ariza’s thirteen point outburst in the third quarter was a warning. Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu’s missed free throws trumpeted the horns of the apocalypse.
Didn’t Stan Van Gundy know that Fisher only needs four tenths of a second to work miracles?
With 4.6 seconds left in regulation, Jameer Nelson left a slight crack in the door for Fisher to step into. With 31 seconds left in overtime, Nelson again was at the center of attention as he walked into a Kobe Bryant elbow, leaving Fisher alone to close the door.
Game. Set. Match. Lakers win.
The series is not yet over, but from somewhere high above, Chick Hearn has put this series in the refrigerator.
Many will quickly author headlines stating that Kobe has finally won a title without Shaq but Laker fans will remind them that Kobe has never earned a ring without Fisher.
Kobe did his best to put the Lakers in a position to win. Fisher did what he does best to insure that the rest is academic.