Derek Fisher's meeting with New Orleans Saints should springboard into other speaking opportunities
Lakers guard Derek Fisher will huddle tonight with a group of athletes determined not to remain complacent after a championship season. Fisher will speak eloquently about what it takes to repeat and the sacrifices needed to reach that goal. And those in attendance will remark later how they drew inspiration from Fisher's words and took them to heart moving forward.
Before you do a double take on the calendar and wonder how on earth you didn't realize the Lakers season already started, don't panic. We're still 2 1/2 weeks away. While fans and the media, myself included, will spend time today previewing what's in store for the Lakers' 2010-2011 season, Fisher will be in New Orleans addressing the Saints, the defending Super Bowl champions, before their season opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Given the way Fisher stuck his neck out by questioning management when it wanted Phil Jackson to accept a pay cut this off-season and how he asked pointed yet respectful questions to Kobe Bryant on Jim Rome's show, I'm wouldn't be at all surprised if Fisher chimed in on whether Reggie Bush should hand over the Heisman Trophy.
It's not surprising, either, that the Super Bowl champions sought Fisher, a winner of five NBA titles, to share his wisdom. It's surely nothing new. He's given countless speeches to his Laker teammates. He speaks on behalf of the players as the president of the NBA Players Assn. And he's pretty much the Lakers' locker room spokesman when it comes to outlining the team message to the media. Beyond continuing his NBA duties, the only question entails where Fisher will speak next? Below the jump are three ideas.
Consult Matt Barnes: This proposal is the more serious of the other two I outline later. According to a report in the Sacramento Bee, Barnes was arrested Wednesday night on a domestic violence charge and for allegedly obstructing the use of a telephone line. Barnes told ABC News 10's Bryan May, "I was the victim but still got arrested," so a process will ensue with sorting out the facts from fiction.
With Barnes scheduled to appear in court Monday, it wouldn't hurt for Fisher to consult with him. Though the details involving the case aren't completely definitive, Fisher's talk with Barnes would serve two purposes. It would establish a relationship as teammates and it would allow Fisher to serve as the team ambassador and liaison. As far as what Fisher might say to him? It's unfair to speculate at this point, but regardless of the facts, Fisher has a level-headed perspective on issues and would have great insight to share with Barnes, both positive and negative depending on what the circumstances entail.
Speak with Team USA: Fisher isn't playing for the U.S. national team, but that doesn't mean his words can't help inspire the Americans to victory in the FIBA World Championships. Team USA just came off a 89-79 win today over Russia in the quarterfinals and faces Lithuania on Saturday in the semifinals. That means Fisher has time to book a flight after the Saints game and arrive in Istanbul, Turkey before tipoff.
Fisher would appeal to patriotism and how Team USA has the chance to win the FIBA World Championship for the first time since 1994. Fisher would mention how no player from the 2008 Olympic team is playing, meaning every player on Team USA has a chance to prove they're worthy replacements. Fisher would also have the ear of teammate Lamar Odom, whose leadership on Team USA will convince everyone else to listen up.
Campaign for mid-term elections: Ignore your politics for just one second. I don't want this to open up a can of worms on political issues and who's in the wrong for what's led to our country's current state. But for the pure sake that Fisher campaigned for President Obama leading into the 2008 election, it wouldn't hurt for Fisher to join the cause again. Obama's approval ratings aren't the highest and various accounts suggest Republicans are poised to grab a few seats. Whether or not you agree with Obama's policies, Fisher's presence could help assuage voter concerns and provide a different face. Consider it his test run for whenever Fisher runs for president in a few years.
Photo: Derek Fisher, who knows about winning championships, will speak to the New Orleans Saints today. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times