Amongst the headliners in the great Los Angeles Lakers road show are superstar scoring machine Kobe Bryant, all-around Mr. Everything Lamar Odom, the young talented seven-footer that many are comparing to a young Shaq, Andrew Bynum, and of course the newly acquired Pau Gasol, who many feel will put Los Angeles over the top in the ultra-tough Western Conference.
When Derek Fisher's name is mentioned around basketball circles, the response heard most often is "oh yeah, he's a good player." Fisher is so much more than that for the Lakers. Although the 6'1" lefty doesn't have the stats of a Steve Nash, he's every bit as unselfish. Fisher simply does whatever needs to be done for his team to win. If it's scoring points, Fisher can do that, as evidenced by his 22.5 ppg. average since Bryant's dislocated finger. If it's locking down the opponent's point guard, Fisher can certainly do that- as he's one of the best defenders in the game. If you don't believe me, believe Steve Nash-
"I definitely think he's changed their team and is an upgrade from last year."
Fisher is the player that seems to make the triangle offense work for the Lakers. He has a complete understanding of where everyone on the court should be, and he will distribute the ball wherever it needs to go, or take the shot when it's presented to him. In short, Fisher is the consummate professional.
If there is any evidence necessary to Fisher's value, take a look at the won/loss records of the team's he's been on and the team's he's left. Fisher was an instrumental part of the Lakers three NBA titles at the turn of the millennium, despite never receiving much accolades. Los Angeles traded Fisher away after the 2003-2004 season in which they won 56 games. The following year without Fisher, the Lakers win total dropped to 34. During Fisher's absence, the Lakers are yet to win a playoff series. But Fisher is back in Los Angeles wearing purple, as he took a major cut in pay to be where his young daughter can receive treatment for a rare eye disease. Since he's been back, the Lakers are one of the best teams in the league again. Coincidence? There's no such thing.
Although Kobe Bryant's finger may be aching, and Andrew Bynum will be absent from the Lakers lineup, they will still pose a major threat to Orlando on Friday thanks largely in part to the presence of Derek Fisher, the soft-spoken, good guy in sports that does whatever it takes for those around him to be successful.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of MagicIllustrated.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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