• Chris Johnson

Why the Knicks Should Be Patient with Fisher


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*Photo via USA Today

Derek Fisher has taken some heat this season, as the first year head coach; he has led his team to a mind numbing, 12-51 record. The team has often looked overmatched every night and there is not very much that Fisher can do about it. He simply does not have the horses that are capable of winning NBA games. There are far too many D-League players on this current roster, which makes it nearly impossible to compete in the talent-laden NBA. However, while watching Knicks games I rarely see a lack of effort from players. This speaks volumes for a 1st year coach to be able to motivate his players in such a dire circumstance.

Fisher went to college at Arkansas-Little Rock, a small school in the Sun Belt Conference, where he had an illustrious career. He was selected 24th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1996 NBA draft and was fortunate enough to play alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Fisher helped play a huge role in winning three consecutive championships from 2000-2002. He may not have been the best player on the team, but he provided leadership from the point guard position. He was never afraid to take the big shot and always played the game with great composure. These specific qualities that Fisher possesses are essential for being a great coach and speak volumes for his character. Also, playing under and learning from one of the best coaches of all time in Phil Jackson is a tremendous advantage to have.

There have been a few very good coaches who were also former players. The one name that sticks out to me is Doc Rivers. Rivers became the head coach of the Boston Celtics in 2004 and after winning the division in his first year at the helm, the team struggled mightily. Boston regressed as a team because the talent on the roster wasn’t sufficient enough to succeed. The team was filled with solid role players, but no players outside of Paul Pierce that actually made a difference. Rivers was on the verge of losing his job after the 2006 season, as the patience of Boston’s front office was wearing thin. They realized that they had a superstar in Paul Pierce and knew they had to spend money in order to fill out the roster with quality players. In the 2007 offseason Boston acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, as well as discovering a diamond in the rough in their new point guard Rajon Rondo. These free agent additions led the Boston Celtics to their first NBA title since 1985-86. This is the perfect example of how providing a coach with the necessary pieces leads to success. Rivers became widely accepted as one of the premier coaches in the NBA, just one season removed from almost being fired. Obviously Rivers and Fisher’s situations also have its differences but the premise is still there.

Bottom line, Derek Fisher needs more time to be fully evaluated as a head coach. He is still very young and somewhat unexperienced, however he knows what a good team looks like and understands what it takes to win.