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Category: A.C. Green

A.C. Green admires Derek Fisher's longevity

A.C. Green

It seemed unlikely that a sinus ailment would keep Lakers guard Derek Fisher off the floor for Friday's game against the Phoenix Suns. 

Yet, many vocal Lakers fans argued that Fisher's presence would hardly make a difference anyway. Fisher in recent seasons has been criticized for being an old, slow point guard who can't guard a pick-and-roll, and doing that to Steve Nash seems burdensome. 

Unfortunately for the Lakers, their failure to upgrade at point guard has put Fisher in a tough position. He's being routinely set up to fail, which makes his toughness and leadership skills seem mute. Yet amid all this, Fisher's absence from Thursday's practice provided another reminder of his longevity. 

Fisher has appeared in 524 consecutive regular-season games since April 15, 2005. He has started in 402 consecutive games since Jan. 15, 2007. Both are highest among active NBA players. And there's one player who can truly appreciate what that means. 

"He's the ironman," former Laker A.C. Green said.

Actually, that title still belongs to Green. He holds the all-time NBA record for consecutive games played with 1,192, dating from Nov. 19, 1986, to April 18, 2001, while playing for the Lakers, Suns, Mavericks and Heat. The two players will remain a rich part of the Lakers' history for most of the same reasons. Green carved out a niche by leading the Showtime Lakers in rebounding six of his eight seasons, playing on two NBA championship teams in that span. He also provided leadership as a reserve for the Lakers' 1999-2000 championship team. Fisher was a valuable role player and clutch shooter during the Kobe-Shaq era en route to three consecutive titles. He remains a critical piece to this day for both his experience and relationship with Bryant. 

"He's the ultimate professional," Green said of Fisher. "He goes out there and does what he needs to do every single night. More importantly, he does it in practice and his pre-game rituals. He just knows how to prepare himself. That's really a lesson in life where you have to find a game plan. You can't have your plan like someone else. You have to have your own plan."

Green's plan involved living by the motto, "If I can breathe, I can play." So much so that he even played in a game a day after having an emergency root canal. Fisher's plan involved in recent seasons staying away from competitive basketball during the offseason and devoting time to off-court workouts. While his legs stayed fresh, Fisher's week often entailed two 90-minute sessions for three consecutive days, emphasizing endurance, core, balance and stability in the morning, and strength in the afternoon. That gave him enough strength to absorb a sprained left elbow last season in regular-season game against Charlotte. 

It hardly sounds glamorous. But it's something fans surely should appreciate. 

"You have to have some help," Green said. "You have to have good trainers, you have to eat right and keep your mind on the right things and find a balance on how to rest. It's a combination of things. You have to have help from the man above. It's nothing easy or magical about it because that's a long time. At the same time, it's fun." 


A.C. Green shares his favorite Lakers dunks of the season

Derek Fisher misses practice due to sinus infection

Derek Fisher still slowed by limited off-season workouts

--Mark Medina

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A.C. Green shares his favorite Laker dunks of the season

In between rounds, there was no point marveling at the dunks A.C. Green and I just witnessed.

We were part of a judging panel on Saturday for the NBA/Sprite Los Angeles Amateur Dunk contests at the Universal City Walk, and the first round consisted of either participants missing or endlessly imitating Spudd Webb's legendary lob bounce off the floor. So instead of picking Green's brain about what we just saw on the court, I thought I'd get his take on which Lakers dunks he enjoyed the most this season. Below are his top three choices followed by his explanations.

1. Kobe Bryant posterizing Emeka Okafor in Lakers' 106-90 Game 5 victory against New Orleans

Only a day earlier, the Lakers faced uncertainty on the severity of Bryant's ankle injury. He had hobbled off the court in Game 4, held postgame interviews in the trainer's room and made his way to the team bus on crutches. Yet, Bryant refused to take an X-ray or have an MRI exam, despite insistence from Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and the training staff, arguing it'd just waste his time. 

It turns out, at least for one game, Bryant was right. His 19-point effort on eight-of-13 shooting included a dunk where he went through an opening in the lane and powered a one-handed slam over Okafor. The play prompted Bryant to roar, the bench to rise and the 19,091 fans at Staples Center to cheer. 

"That's what really stands out for anything else," Green said. "It was the timing of it all, when it happened in the game and the attitude with it. The actual dunk itself, he had to go up and readjust because Okafor was coming at him face-to-face. So he had to adjust his body and glide over to the right. Basically, he had to hesitate, let [Okafor's] body pass his and then come down with it. Where I was sitting at the time, it was perfect. That's the kind that make you say, 'Oh yeah.' "

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