He was affectionately called “El Capitan” by his teammates on the Lakers’ championship winning teams. Spurs fans likely call him something far more inappropriate and Celtics fans have a similar sentiment.
To Lakers fans, he’s known for the big shots, clutch moments, and knack for huge plays.
His name is Derek Fisher.
Outside of Laker land, Fisher’s play may not get much recognition. Similar to Michael Cooper of the 80s title runs, he was integral part of the Lakers five titles, but never more than a role player.
But Fisher’s contributions to the Lakers far surpass anything statistically measurable. He made a career of knocking down the big three, getting the crucial lose ball, or, late in his career, motivating the team vocally in huddles.
When Fisher came into the league, he wasn’t supremely athletic, nor was he physically strong. But Fisher found his niche within the Lakers system in the early 2000s, quickly gaining a reputation as a knock down shooter with a high basketball IQ.
He never was a prolific scorer – only a handful of times did he break the 20-point barrier. Nor was he known for his ability to create off the dribble.
But he was Kobe’s closest confidant, the team leader, and one of the most dependable Lakers during those five title runs.
He has a laundry list of huge moments, topped with the “0.4 second shot.” His performances in the Finals against the Magic in Game 4 and Boston in Game 3 rank nearly as high.
In one of the plays that epitomizes Fisher’s career (and one of my personal favorites), in a regular season game against Denver in 2011, the Lakers were trying to claw their way back late. Following an errant shot and a long bounce, Fisher and Ty Lawson were in a foot race for the ball. Despite being at an obvious disadvantage, Fisher made up for it with a last gasp dive, gaining control of the ball and calling a timeout before sliding out of bounds.
Few player out-worked Fisher. Fewer people out-hustled him. No one did both.
But is it enough to validate having his jersey retired? While the Lakers wouldn’t have those five titles without Fisher, the Lakers have a very exclusive club of retired jerseys.
Only Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaq, James Worthy, Jerry West, Jamaal Wilkes, and eventually Kobe Bryant have their jerseys hanging in the Staples Center rafters.
Clearly, the Lakers are pretty strict in their jersey retirements, which doesn’t bode well for Fisher.
While his chances for having his jersey retired doesn’t bode well, Fisher has never had the odds in his favor.
What do you think, Lake Show Life audience? Should the Lakers consider retiring Fisher’s jersey?