Saturday, February 22, 2014
Wearing a championship ring on the finger of his left hand but a stress fracture on his right foot, Derek Fisher has something to prove in 2001. The Laker legend he was drated alongside in the class of '96, Kobe Bryant has started a new dynasty for the three-peat ages with Shaquille O'Neal and Coach Phil Jackson, beating the clutch of Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers for the first NBA champions of the new milleniuum in the brand, new STAPLES Centre. Still between critical injuries and minimal playing time behind the Harper's of Derek or Ron, Fisher wants to show his storied L.A. Lakers and the Larry O'Brien round his finger that he can truly earn this elite, Hall Of Fame company. With everyone checking for Robert Horry and his clutch legendary greatness nobody saw the number 2. So taking off his ring like an adultering husband on the road and strapping his ankle, the ever loyal Derek wrapped a head band round his shaved dome and went to work. Swish, swish, shwish. That was all San Antonio and the rest of the swept Western Conference heard as Derek Fisher stepped up to every shot he knocked down in perfect twine, time off the pine and into the prime. Robert Horry may have finished the games, but Derek Fisher's hot microwave play started them like Vinnie Johnson in 60 seconds. Even in the Allen Iverson dominated finals-as L.A. beat the one man Boston Celtic, Laker killing show in Philadelphia-Fish's headband even caught a dunk over those cornrows. Sure this was the Kobe or Shaq show as the trophies where rasied, but it was the Fisher dagger that truly went down and sank into the heart of the opposition and everyone who ever doubted him or wrote him off. Forgettable? Add an un-before that. With a finger to his lips it wasn't just the Philly crowd that Derek Fisher told to be quiet. Everyone was silent.
It was all good just a second ago thought Tim Duncan until it became darker than two days in November when the red lights illuminated. Today the Robot doesn't just take over the Admiral as the greatest San Antonio Spur of all-time. One of the two towers is also one of the greatest Basketball players the National Basketball Association or the world has ever seen. He's top ten and he's your all-time Power Forward in your starting five. His legacy is just that legendary. He almost crushed the Lakers like he did with David Robinson, along with those "boring" criticisms with a clutch 18 feet fadeway over the mountain of meat that was the 7 foot 1, 330 pound Shaquille O'Neal. Jordan would have been proud, still Timmy was heartbroken by the Lakers and one particular player all over again. As they said 'one great shot deserves another' and life can change in a blink of a second. Even 0.4 tenths of one. That's when Derek Fisher changed it all. Changed those 'yet-again' criticism that he was done, a one hit wonder or a band wagoner, riding on his draft-mates 'fro-tails. That's when Derek Fisher proved his Point over brought in Hall Of Fame legend Gary Payton. That's when he proved down the line his glove clutched on to more lasting shots and he could deliver like Malone, Karl 'Mailman'. That's when he proved he was truly a winner. Truly one for the last seconds or front pages, Robert Horry or not. Like Vlade Divac you better "check a paper or something". 'The Fish That Saved L.A.', with one of the greatest shots and moments in NBA history from one of its greatest players. You can for sure put him in the Hall Of Fame with Big Shot Rob no debate. L.A. had two of the greatest playoff legends in their Shaq and Kobe dynasty and we're not talking about O'Neal and Bryant right now. We're talking about Horry and Fisher. Miracles do happen and they usually come from working class everyman you didn't realise where so special until their own movie moments. Isn't that right Rick Fox? This was real however. You better check the history books or something. File it under '0.4'.
With a dynasty DEAD! O'Neal winning championships in Miami and Horry soon to be in San Antonio (of all places), the young prince Kobe was driving his purple reighn little red corvette into brick walls with no one in the passenger seat. Not even his day one ally, who after some Warrior wars in Golden State made his way to Salt Lake City. The new Malone/Stockton era of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer needed that big-game playoff experience for Jerry Sloan. Still, with his daughter ill with cancer in a critical game for the Jazz, Derek was where he should have been with the Fisher family in New York at his daughters bedside. Then after a miracle at the hospital, another one happened again as Derek was cleared for take-off in more ways than one. Flying to Utah and then escorted by the flashing blue and red lights of the police service, Fisher made it to his prom-night on time. He shall have the ball in his possession when it mattered in this cinderella series story. When Deron was down in foul trouble, and back-up Dee Brown was backed up with injury, the "Fish that saved" was there. Arriving to a standing ovation in the third quarter and against his former team Golden State Warriors and their lead by lead talent Baron Davis, marking up it was time to go deeper and reach for something higher. Pointing his fingers to heaven and thanking the Lord for this moment and all that happened before, he knew what was going to happen next. Defensive stops and all the electric spark-plug charges he took that are part and parcel of his legendary role playing game, even if you don't see it wrapped up on the box-score-Fisher made the big plays for the big comeback. Then with another big shot, BOOM came the big win. Then the tears of all sorts of emotions and exhaustion. Joy rained through the Delta Centre from clutch shots to ticker tape and celebrations that made their way all the way to the television set in a New York Hospital where Tatum Fisher was watching over proud of daddy like he unspeakably was of her. That was for you little one.
Tatum Fisher's retinoblastoma, was a rare form of eye-cancer that was incredible enough to survive but also needed the help of specialists to truly recover. Specialists fittingly found in the City of Angels. With the Jazz's blessing Derek Fisher returned to his home alongside Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, reunited with the great Zen master Phil Jackson too. There was a parade plan in process. It began with Kobe and Phil building bridges and then a true team with Sixth Man Legend Lamar Odom and next, great big-man Andrew Bynum. The blockbuster trade for European great and true second-option Pau Gasol and the clutching of valuable veteran and playoff punch legend Derek Fisher sealed the deal with the Basketball God's for the Larry O'Brien engraving. Add some World Peace in Ron Artest later and we had a double dynasty. After some Celtic heartbreak that the storied, second-in-line Lakers are all too unfondly familair with, balloons would never fall on an empty floor again. After beating Dwight Howard and his Orlando Magic, Fishers clutch buckets in overtime and beyond helped give Kobe and the Lakers their one-more than Shaq championship of Kobe's revolution. Still it was the Celtic redemption in Boston that brought the real clutch heart and tears. Big play after big bucket came pouring out of the soul of this role playing superstar as Derek Fisher did more than just hit his trademark threes. His barely six-feet stature overcame a triple-team of Hall Of Famers in that Garnett, Pierce, Allen era on the lay-up line. In true Fisher history he drew the foul and then turned that play into a three from the line. It was the driven character like his autobiography that took him that deep into the color of the Celtic paint. On the canvas of his Basketball career there was no more doubt or critics, just more unbelievable bulletts in the gun. Even though it was no surprise as a tearful embrace with Bynum in the visiting locker room showed like the unthinkable seven game triumph over the leaders of hoops, this was one of Derek's personal and greatest moments.
Still much to Kobe Bryant and the Laker faithfuls disdain, Fisher wouldn't close out his his career with the Lake Show. Still, you best believe they'll put his number 2 jersey up their with the Worthy and Magic greats. Marshon Brooks may as well give it up now. Traded for the inside damaging dreads of Jordan Hill and replaced by the brief Sessions of Ramon playing Derek deserved better and then he found it via Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the West best, Laker beating and Miami Heat championship chasing Oklahoma City Thunder. A team he still plays to these last days of his career, albeit with a brief Dallas Mavericks interlude that saw the wrong sort of headlines with Mark Cuban who was left madder than a waitress working a double with no tips. He didn't want him, but LeBron James and his Miami Heat dynasty did, knowing full well he could even shoot down Jesus Ray Allen in the clutch. You best believe Kobe still does too, as much as he wants to play himself. Still the clutch king that is Fisher seems to have found a home in OKC as more than just a bench pick-up of experience that can take the charge and lead the coaching from the playbooks to the play huddles. You may aswell give the former President Of The Playing Association the dry-erase now because he'll make the perfect coach when his sneakers are finally hung after what will either be him and his friend Kevin or LeBron's parade. You can tell from the words of advice he gives to his teammates or on his offical websites eloquent, signature farewell blog of basketball beauty that it's all about the X's and O's for this guy that leaves the heart and soul of his bicep honed basketball frame on the Wooden hardwood every night. Still, with every new Thunder strike, proving it can happen more than once, Fisher shows there's still some clutch to add to the legacy of his legend down the halls of Basketball history. With the playoffs primed and his experience weathered ready for the Thunder who knows how many more big shots we'll see fished? The leader is far from finished there's still many more precious seconds that last a lifetime in the lifeblood of his classic career and what a better way to finish it then with one more shot, ring and wink to the opposition? Now enjoy it while it lasts and he's still here. To the new Mr. Clutch this side of the West we salute. Five, four, three, two, one. This is your time. Seconds out...
Monday, February 17, 2014
Hold the front page! Steve Nash isn't frozen up in a Steve Rodgers block of ice just yet. The cold never bothered him anyway. Coming back it's time to thaw the first Avenger. Besides Captain Canada has risen from the cold before like a Phoenix as a double MVP Sun. His time under the yellow ball with the orange one isn't set yet. We want to see 'The Winter Soldier' throw the ball up to Kobe Bryant as he flies to the rim like The Falcon. This may not be Lob City, but it's still the town that Magic Johnson built right? The Showtime must go on, World Peace or not. No Rocket take off should ground the team Dwight Howard dumped. Jim Buss playing poker up there with Jim Murray and Chick Hearn needs to be able to bet on his Lakers. It's time for Steve Nash to take the shield and lead the way for L.A. like he carried the torch in more ways than one for Canadian Basketball, way before the Anthony Bennett's, Corey Joesph's and Justin Jackson's. Way before the 2016 All-Star Game or 'Drake Night'. Right there at the start like the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies. Starting the new era of up North hoops like Basketball Buzz. Don't just wait for the Nash documentary witness Steve in all his old glory before its too raised rafters late.
You're going to want to see this. Like the skateboard player hair or the soccer skill dribbling. The pinpoint, pure Point passes. The mid-range shot as automatic as a free throw. He may aswell have a robotic arm. The three pointer you didn't realise was so pure. The pace even at his age. The mastermind Magic vision on court. Serving the game like Samprass. As classic as a Jay-Z reference. The best to ever do it since Pistol Pete. Bang goes a Mavarich Marvel. The Basketball sixth sense that turns former All-Stars into veteran scientists of hardwood. The professors of the game. It's an education for those rookies...take note! Ever since the kid born in Johannesburg, South Africa and raised in Canada with a dual British nationality (that's where the soccer skills come from, he's a Spurs fan and we aren't talking about San Antonio) headed due South to the National Basketball Association of America (and a little bit Canada), Nash has bridged the gap and opened up a world of possibility to this sport. His game...and today he's still in it.
The Santa Clara grad has still got one more year in California and he's hoping to reignite his big three with Kobe and Gasol like the 'Nellie Ball' fun he had with Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley in Dallas or the STAT, Matrix dunking one he had with Ama're Stoudemire and Shawn Marion in Phoenix. The perfect 10 may be bringing his former number 13 jersey luck to the Lakers, but the eight time All-Star, five time assists leader has a lot more with him to carry on his 6,3, 178 pound, giving out back as well as his depleted team and sick note status. You can't even begin to understand the pain he's going through, like you can't even under stand the power he has to make it through. Basketball doctors are giving his career just weeks to live, yet the Maverick legend is defying all medical odds like the Dallas Buyers Club. I got a newsflash for you, there aint nothing that can take Stephen John Nash out in 30 days. They just don't understand. In this sport almost nobody does, expect maybe that number 24 who tried to push his torn achillie back into place. That's hardcore. That's greek God stuff. If Kobe's one of them then Nash is a gladiator. Thumbs up? Are you not entertained?
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Adapted from a 'Top 60 "Microwave" Players Of All-Time' feature for 'Basketball 24/48/82', heres a look at the best Laker bench playing spark-plugs in team history. Seconds out...
Nick Young-It really is frustrating out there in La, La Laker land, when the point production of a team lacking an injured Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and on and off Pau Gasol relies on the streaking (at times super and others slumping) of a guy who calls himself Swaggy P. Still, there's more to Nick Young than big hair and bright sneakers. A 'Sixth Man Of The Year' award this year may show that but more likely the maturing of Young over the seasons will. Despite those off target shots and those ones that rattle all around world of the rim before going in when Nick's on time it looks like he could hit anything fading as far as his back'fro. Besides Kobe shot air balls in his first year.
Byron Russell-Byron Russell isn't just the guy that Michael Jordan hit his "last" shot over, he was also a key contributor to the Karl Malone pick and John Stockton roll of a Utah Jazz team that at least deserved a championship. A much greater defender then that shot proved, Byron played out his career behind Jordan in Washington and with Kobe as a Laker but the swingman still proved he could come off the bench and play with the best, somewhat like them.
Tracy Murray-How this guy wasn't an All-Star is crazy, because in the golden era of the league he was one of the best scorers, especially when he came off the bench and into his own. The underestimated usually become the underrated and that was something Murray could use to his offensive advantage for the journey worth of teams this man hit the road with. Up North in Toronto Tracy even hit career highs, leading the team like McGrady never got to. Those who freeze this Canadian side out are just cold to the game and how hot this guy was not only off the bench but as a star in his own right and record.
Jimmy Jackson-Jimmy Jackson could score with the best of them and like a Jalen Rose, Chris Webber and Juwan Howard 'Fab Five' out of Michigan he formed the three J's with Jamal Mashburn and Jason Kidd who he could share the ball, but not Toni Braxton with. If more didn't happen more could have happened there and the somewhat outside star faded to the bench in his later career where he became a different type of Kendall Gill like contributor who could score.
Cedric Ceballos-In one Slam Dunk Contest Ced Ceballos sensationally strapped a blindfold over his eyes and dunked his way to victory. In games the Phoenix/Lakers star could see his fair share of dunks and plenty of points too. Like 'NBA Live' he was the perfect video game player who could light the scoreboard up like the best of them in the golden era. He was also part of that '96 Vlade Divac, Eddie Jones, Elden Campbell and Nick Van Exel forum of Lakers players who were about to meet one big guy and some high school kid.
Antawn Jamison-The current Clipper may have not had as great a time on the other side of L.A. as he did when he was leading the Cleveland Cavalier, but the current reserve has tweened between being a franchise player and a point producer off the bench. Either way the ever underrated one of the greats has been a star and a scorer no matter the time or shine.
Lamar Odom-It may be hard for fans to keep up with the Kardashian tabloid drama of Lamar these days but the Los Angeles son who has been cursed as a Clipper gifted the Lakers with their most productive player in their most recent championship years...a team led by a certain guy called Kobe..
Glen Rice-Forget what they said about his wife or Sarah Pailin, the father of one of the latest crop of Rookies past something down a generation to Glen Rice Jr, like Tim Hardaway has to his junior namesake. From Miami to New York he was hot from downtown like South Beach still past ten or Manhattan in the A.M. in July but the purity became more potent under the sun of a solo stint in Los Angeles. As a third option off the bench between the Shaq and Kobe Laker duo he hit the big threes before Horry's closers on the way to the first chip of the champions three-peat.
Norm Nixon-When Magic Johnson joined the Lakers it practically ended the show for their one-time leading point Norm Nixon in a Nikon like camera flash. I guess that's just the norm when it comes to the greatest playmaker of all time. Still this all lead to N.N. being a brilliant back-up for some time. The great player however deserved more from NBA Point Guard legend and Lakers lore, but sometimes people are just blinded by Magic.