5 minutes with 5-time NBA Champion Derek Fisher

After 13 years, Derek Fisher finds himself in the hoops-crazy nation of the Philippines once again.  Only this time, he is back in the country to facilitate a clinic for coaches organized by the NBA instead of playing at an exhibition game.

“Anybody else calls you Little Rock or was that just Kobe?” we ask in an attempt to break the ice.

“Nah, not really! That was just him,” he shares. With a smile on his face, he displayed the look of someone who was suddenly made to reminisce about his early playing days alongside the late great, Kobe Bryant.

Kobe Bryant Derek Fisher
Photo: Derek Fisher / Instagram

Off the bat, one could definitely sense that there was a presence about him. But it wasn’t an intimidating presence. His was a calming presence—almost zen-like. He exudes a quiet confidence similar to a smoothly flowing river that runs deep.  The type of presence that you only get when you know you’re sitting across a legend whose body of work speaks for itself.


Derek Fisher didn’t always dream of being an NBA Superstar

“I’m sure as a kid, you uttered the words I want to be an NBA Superstar,” we confidently assume as we sat across the five-time NBA Champion and Los Angeles Lakers legend, Derek Fisher.  He lets out a playful chuckle as he politely resumes to listen to the rest of our questions before telling me that our assumption was wrong.

“You know oddly enough, I didn’t grow up wanting to be an NBA Superstar,” he says.

Being from Arkansas, he shared that playing college hoops was the thing that was on his mind and thoughts of playing in the NBA only started to pop up when he was already playing college ball because it was the natural next step to take in pursuing a basketball career.

Derek Fisher college
Derek Fisher playing for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). Photo: Derek Fisher / Instagram

“I grew up watching Magic (Johnson), and there’s no way that I assumed that I would be in Magic’s position.”

Derek Fisher might not be a household name in the sense that Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and even Magic Johnson are, but the real ones know that D. Fish has his fingerprints all over each of the 5 championship trophies that he’s won during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Photo: Derek Fisher / Instagram

Coaching, like being an NBA player, also came as the natural next step

Now 49 years old, Fisher is still around the game of basketball—currently coaching the Crespi Carmelite High School basketball team where his son plays.  But prior to that, he’s also been at the helm of both NBA and WNBA teams.

Derek Fisher: NYK coach and LA Sparks Coach. Photo: Derek Fisher / Instagram

“I think because I always held some type of leadership position on my teams, and being the point guard, you’re like a coach on the floor and you have to understand what the coach is thinking in order to help execute it out on the court.” 

“I didn’t necessarily plan to coach, but I knew that it (career after playing) would be something in basketball,” he adds.

Phil Jackson is the most impactful coach in his professional career

“Professionally, what we have accomplished in L.A. with Phil (Jackson) still doesn’t get enough credit. A lot of people talk about the triangle offense and the great players that he had. But to me, his special gift was he had a way of making players take ownership of their journey.”

He then goes on to share that another thing that really stuck with him was how well Phil helped him understand how to deal with outside factors.

“Referees, fans, the media, the other opponent talking trash… none of those things should dictate or impact your decision or how well you play.”

“I always played with a chip on my shoulder like I had something to prove but I learned how not feel like I have to prove something all the time and just try to focus on playing the game correctly,” Fisher told ALL-STAR

Regardless of where you are and what kind of basket you grew up shooting on, your love for the game can last you forever and it will take you really far.

Derek Fisher, ALL-STAR Interview

Derek Fisher on coaching across different levels

As someone who has coached in different leagues, he points out that there are certain realities in how coaching is different at each level: In terms of what resources are available, the staff size, and the availability of the practice facilities. However, he’s also just as quick to point out that there are things that remain the same across any level of coaching.

“To me what is consistent, and what we talked about in the coach’s clinic is preserving the fundamentals and habits to playing good basketball that apply to any level. Communicating. Teamwork. Intensity. Focus. Discipline and Commitment to the team.  I kind of hold players accountable to that no matter what level.”

Derek Fisher on Filipinos’ love for basketball

A large part of basketball in the Philippines is played wearing flip-flops on makeshift hoops. When we asked Derek Fisher what seeing this type of love for the game meant to him, his answer struck close to home. 

“I grew up with a dirty clothes hamper in the corner of the room and dirty socks were the basketball, to a Nerf hoop on the back of the door, to a tire rim that got nailed into the tree… there are a number of different ways to create a basket and learn to how to shoot the ball in the basket,” Fisher told ALL-STAR

“To see that (love for the game of basketball) here in the Philippines and around the world and different continents and different places… It just reminds you that regardless of where you are and what kind of basket you grew up shooting on, your love for the game can last you forever and it will take you really far.”

Derek Fisher played an exhibition game with Filipino ballers in 2011. Photo: Derek Fisher / Instagram

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