Lakers audio: Derek Fisher
To go with the media day interview transcripts, we also have some audio as well. Some people, after all, are visual learners while others are auditory. We don't want to discriminate.
We'll start with Derek Fisher. Since the first time they nailed a peach basket to a pole, I doubt the addition of a player who isn't even in the top 50% among starters at his position has been more welcome. Fisher isn't an elite point guard. He never really was, even when he was a younger player without the mileage. But a) he can still play, b) almost by definition he can't help but improve on what the Lakers trotted out in the PG rotation last year, and c) as we all know, neither one of those factors tells the entire story of why the Lakers brought him back.
Listen to the clips, and you'll understand. I believe the word is "intangibles."
There aren't many guys floating around the league who can all at once communicate with, understand and stand up to Kobe Bryant. Fish is one, and the value of that can't be underestimated. As bad as Smush Parker was at forging team chemistry from the point, Fish is that good. He can be that bridge from Kobe to the rest of the room, which is still filled with guys who may not have the self-confidence to, as Fisher puts it, understand Kobe's confidence without giving up their "space." He can be a bridge to P.J., should that be necessary. Basically, the guy should be followed around by the Army Corps of Engineers, because he builds bridges everywhere.
He's well aware of what he can bring in that leadership role, and where he can fit into the group dynamic. As the first clip shows, Fisher is a strong presence, even without making bold assumptions and declarations. "I'm not one to really say what this team doesn't have, because I'm really excited about what we do have. I like a lot of our individual pieces, and I think the question is always for every team how do you make that a collective group? How do you become successful as a group, not just based on individual successes?" Download derek_fisher_10.1 2 on leadership, what the team has.mp3
Clip 2: What happened this summer may have, at least from a drama standpoint, a Threepeat feel. But Fisher said it was hard to compare this summer to seasons past, because the composition of the championship teams was so different from this one. That was a group that expected, even knew, that they'd win. This bunch? A lot less experience. Download derek_fisher_10.1 3 on summer drama now vs. then.mp3
Clip 3: Fisher discusses Kobe's amazing ability to shut out "what's going on in and around the periphery of his life." Assuming everyone else can do the same, he says, questions of any lasting impact from this summer or 24's potential opt out can be put behind everyone. Kobe will shut it out, just as he and his teammates shut out distractions (on the court, at least) during the championship years. Can everyone else?
Download derek_fisher_10.1 4 on Kobe's ability to shut out distraction, how champ teams did it.mp3
Clip 4: This summer, Fisher spoke with Kobe, but not about the Lakers or Bryant's plans. "I never got into questioning what he said or why he said it. We've never had that kind of relationship. I think we've always had a mutual respect that is just kind of understood. It's there, just based on eye contact. We don't always have to say a lot," Fisher said. "But we haven't yet had any of those real table conversations about heart-to-heart feelings and emotions." But those talks should, will and, in Fisher's mind, must happen. "I need to talk to him if I'm going to play the role that I'm going to play for this team. I need Kobe's insight." Download derek_fisher_10.1 5 on interaction with Kobe, their relationship.mp3
Clip 5: Fisher says he hopes to take some leadership responsibilities off Kobe's shoulders, so 24 can be more free to do his thing. "I'm hopeful that I can be another guy who knows the system, understands what Phil is trying to get done, understands how to play next to Kobe but still be independent of him and feel good about my game."
Download derek_fisher_10.1 6 on how he fits with Kobe, need for leadership.mp3
Clip 6: Playing with 24 presents a unique set of challenges. "Kobe's a dominant basketball player; he's a dominant personality. You have to understand those things and still feel good about who you are as a player, and feel comfortable going out and doing the things you can do and not allow him to feel as though he's going to step all the way into your space. You still have your space, and that's what he expects from you as a teammate. He doesn't expect you to bend to his pressure. He needs you."
Download derek_fisher_10.1 7 on challenges of playing with Kobe.mp3
Of course, I don't want to leave out an update on the health of his daughter, whose care for a rare form of eye cancer prompted his return. Fortunately, the news is good.
Download derek_fisher_10.1 1 on daughter's health.mp3