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Derek Fisher is a 5-time Lakers champion, responsible for one of the most iconic buzzer-beaters in playoff history. Jim Hill chats with D-Fish about that shot, his time with the Lakers and his bond with teammate Kobe Bryant
JIM HILL: If there's anyone who can be called a Laker legend, it's Derek Fisher.
DEREK FISHER: I still have to laugh because, you know, I grew up watching and idolizing in a good way, in my opinion, you know, Magic and B. Scott and James and Kareem and Jamaal Wilkes and Mychal Thompson and Kurt Rambis and Mitch Kupchak, and, like, you know-- and so to imagine my life in any way crossing paths with those guys, like, I never could have dreamt that in my wildest dreams. And so, yeah, I just have to chuckle when I hear it, but I'm thankful for all the experiences.
JIM HILL: All right, do you chuckle when I say 0.4 seconds?
DEREK FISHER: I do because it's been almost 17 years ago now.
Yeah, no, it's, again, just one of those moments like where growing up, you know, in the driveway in Little Rock emulating the last-second shots of the guys that you grew up watching, right-- and everybody's in your driveway 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1. And even our kids now, like, they go out to play. They play a game called 3, 2, 1. And as soon as you get the rebound, they start counting down, 3, 2, 1.
And so that moment for me, that was my first NBA game-winning shot. And yeah, so I just-- again, it's like I've been living a dream since 1996, and thankfully it's still going.
JIM HILL: But you know you've made an impact on the sport when they changed the rules because of you.
DEREK FISHER: Yeah.
JIM HILL: They changed the rules because of you and that shot.
DEREK FISHER: I think, you know, some teams would, you know, disagree that there should be that rule in place. But yeah, man, again, just very, very fortunate to have been surrounded by great teammates, great coaches, great support, my family, people like yourself. LA has been a second home to me which has become home, and I'm just thankful, man, for every opportunity and every experience.
JIM HILL: You have five, a handful of rings, and you got all five of those with Kobe. Your relationship with Kobe Bryant was unlike anyone else's relationship with him. Wouldn't you agree?
DEREK FISHER: I mean, for sure professionally. Like I respect, you know, his family, Vanessa, the girls. Like, you know, there are parts of his life that, you know, only they experienced and only they know. But I do believe that from a professional standpoint the bond that we had, the relationship that we built together over, you know, 13 and 1/2 years of being on the same team and practicing against each other, beating each other up, cussing each other out-- you know, we drove each other in ways that I'm not sure other guys could have.
And I know I learned a lot from him even though he was the younger brother, so to speak. And I wouldn't be here still, you know, even having this conversation if it were not for him and his greatness.
JIM HILL: Because there are many of us who feel that you were the only one that he would really listen to in times of crisis of controversy.
DEREK FISHER: Well, you know, maybe that we knew of. Again, I think that some of the reason why he maybe was open to, you know, allowing me to really be honest and transparent with him is, you know, like, the way we worked, you know, behind closed doors. Like, he saw the work that I put in, and I think he loved basketball in ways that's hard to put in words. Like he put it into words because, you know, he wrote a short film. He's written stories literally about his love for basketball.
I think he was able to connect to other people that he feels like loved basketball in a similar way that he did, and I really think that's where our bond formed, right, was like this initial recognition that this guy loves the game as bad as I do, and he's willing to literally sacrifice his body, his time, his pain, whatever it takes in order to win. And that's what connected us and still does.
JIM HILL: And now you have that connection with the lady Sparks, and you are imparting upon them the things that you learned in the NBA, which is making them not only better individually but better as a team.
DEREK FISHER: Yes. No, no doubt about it. I think, you know, winning and becoming what we consider to be successful in terms of being champions, you know, it doesn't just happen once that last buzzer goes off and now you get a chance to hold the trophy. It really does come from the failures and the setbacks and the mistakes and the times when people doubted you or doubted your team or questioned what you're actually capable of. And so for our teams now with the Sparks, like that's-- we're squarely in that position where as we go through a bit of evolution in terms of a new era of Sparks basketball with new faces and new members, people second guessing and questioning and doubting whether or not we're headed in the right direction, and we just have to stay focused on the process and doing our jobs and everything else will take care of itself.
JIM HILL: You know, all these things we've talked about are the big reasons why Derek Fisher is a Laker legend.
DEREK FISHER: Every time I hear it I'm still going to laugh, Jim. It's just hard-- it's just hard to imagine, man. I love the Lakers as an organization. I love the city. Laker fans have been overly generous and kind to me. Like, I really just tried my best to play the most effective role I could to help us be successful at that time.
And I was very lucky that Jerry West was able to cut through the noise and take a chance on a little short dude from Little Rock and, you know, just believed that I could be helpful in the vision that he was creating.