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Derek Fisher

Derek Lamar Fisher (born August 9, 1974) is an American professional basketball player with the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. He was the twenty-fourth pick in the first-round by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1996 NBA Draft. He has also been the color commentator for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA since July 1, 2008. Fisher was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and is represented by agent Rob Pelinka.

High school and college years

The younger brother of former NBA player Duane Washington, Fisher attended the Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School in Little Rock, where he was a letterman in basketball.

He went on to attend the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for four years, with a major in communications. Fisher concluded his collegiate career at Arkansas-Little Rock second on the school’s all-time lists in points (1,393), assists (472) and steals (189). He averaged 12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists over 112 games and consistently led the team in assists and steals every year. Fisher also set a school record for free throws made in a career (399) and ranked 3rd among all-time UALR leaders in three-point field goals made (125). As a senior, he earned Sunbelt Conference Player of the Year honors.

In 2005, Fisher pledged $700,000 to UALR towards the construction of its Jack Stephens Center auxiliary gym, since named in his honor, and the establishment of the Fisher Fellows Life Skills program, a mentoring series for UALR student-athletes.

NBA career

Los Angeles Lakers (1996-2004)

Fisher was selected 24th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, and spent his first eight seasons with them.

He made his NBA debut in an early season game against the Phoenix Suns, tallying 12 points and five assists. Over the course of his rookie season, Fisher appeared in 80 games, averaging 3.9 points, 1.5 assists and 1.2 rebounds. He was selected to the Schick Rookie Game during the All-Star Weekend in Cleveland and had 16 points and six assists.

Due to a stress fracture in his right foot, Fisher missed 62 games out of the 2000-01 season. By the 2002-03 season, Fisher had firmly established himself as the Lakers' primary point guard, starting in all 82 games. But after the team was eliminated in the Western Conference Semifinals by the eventual champion Spurs that spring, followed by the signing of veteran point guard Gary Payton in the summer, Fisher was demoted back to the bench for the 2003-04 season. Despite his reduced role, the 2004 Playoffs provided one of Fisher's most memorable career moments.

The 0.4 shot

One of Fisher's finest playoff moments came in Game 5 (May 13, 2004) of the 2004 Western Conference semi-finals between the Lakers and the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. The series was tied 2-2, and Game 5 was a closely contested affair. With 11 seconds remaining, Kobe Bryant hit a jump shot to put the Lakers up 72-71. The Spurs, needing last-minute heroics, thought they clinched the game after Tim Duncan then made an 18-foot shot despite falling away from the basket. The Spurs led 73-72 with 0.4 seconds on the clock.

To devise strategies, three consecutive time-outs were called: the first by the Lakers, the second by San Antonio to set up the defense, and the last by the Lakers to re-set up the offense. When the game resumed, Gary Payton inbounded the ball to Fisher, who managed to catch, turn, and shoot the game-winning basket. Fisher memorably sprinted off the court, as he later admitted he was uncertain he beat the buzzer and wanted to exit before the play could be reviewed. The Spurs immediately filed a dispute regarding the shot and after reviewing video footage of the play, the referees concluded that the ball had indeed left Fisher's hands before the clock expired. The "0.4" shot counted and the Lakers won.

Fisher was nicknamed "The Fish That Saved L.A." for the play and was credited with salvaging the team's championship run, as losing the game may have prolonged the series in the Spurs' favor. The Lakers went on to close out the Spurs in Game 6. They proceeded to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves to clinch the Western Conference championship, but were beaten in the NBA Finals by the Detroit Pistons 4 games to 1.

Golden State Warriors (2004-2006)

After the 2003-04 season, Fisher became a free agent. Although he was popular, the Lakers viewed him as a role player, and with the additions of veterans Gary Payton and Karl Malone the previous summer, Fisher had been removed from the starting lineup and saw his playing time reduced to 18-20 minutes a game. In addition, the Lakers team that Fisher was familiar with had disintegrated after the 2003-04 season. Head coach Phil Jackson retired and center Shaquille O'Neal had been traded to the Miami Heat, while Kobe Bryant threatened to opt out of his contract and most of the remaining Lakers squad was traded away in the opening phases of a rebuilding effort. During contract negotiations, the Lakers offered Fisher $15 million over three years. In contrast, the Golden State Warriors offered Fisher $37 million over six years and guaranteed him a role as the team's starting point guard.

On July 16, 2004, Fisher signed with the Golden State Warriors as a free agent. Fisher's two-season term with Golden State proved to be somewhat of a disappointment, as some of the flaws in his game were exposed. While he was a reliable spot-up shooter, Fisher saw limited openings without a star player such as Bryant or O'Neal to command a double-team, and struggled against quicker players. The team as a whole continued to struggle mightily and languished near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Fisher had stated that his primary reason for joining the Warriors was the chance to run his own team as its starting point guard. However, newly-acquired star Baron Davis soon replaced him in that capacity, and Fisher came off the bench for the remainder of his time in Golden State. In the 2005-06 season, he was productive in his back-up role, averaging 13.3 points a game, the highest season scoring average of his career.

Utah Jazz (2006-2007)

Derek Fisher was acquired by the Utah Jazz on July 12, 2006 in a trade that sent Keith McLeod, Andre Owens, and Devin Brown to the Golden State Warriors. He appeared in all 82 games of the 2006-07 season, averaging 9.5 points, 3.3 assists and 1.01 steals while scoring in double figures 40 times.

In November 2006, Fisher was voted President of the NBA Players Association, succeeding Antonio Davis. Fisher had previously served as vice president.

2007 Playoffs

In opening round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs, the Jazz defeated the Houston Rockets in seven games. But several days before the Western Conference Semifinals between the Jazz and the Golden State Warriors were to begin, Fisher vaguely stated that one of his four children was ill, avoiding going into further detail other than to say he needed to be with his family instead of participating in the first game of the series.

It was not until a post-game interview after Game 2 that Fisher went into more explicit detail on the situation involving his then-11-month-old daughter, Tatum. She had been diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a degenerative and rare form of eye cancer, which required an emergency three-hour surgery and chemotherapy at New York's Presbyterian Hospital.

Prior to Game 2, Fisher had asked head coach Jerry Sloan to leave him on the active list, but said he could not guarantee he would make it in time to play. But with permission from their doctors in New York, he and his family flew back to Utah after his daughter's surgery. After landing in Salt Lake City with Game 2 already in progress, Fisher learned that teammate and starting point Deron Williams was in foul trouble and his backup for the game, Dee Brown, had been seriously injured, leaving forward Andrei Kirilenko to play point guard.

Fisher arrived at the arena in the middle of the third quarter, suited up, and without time for preparation, made his way to the court. He was immediately called upon by Sloan to enter the game, and received a standing ovation from the crowd and support from Jazz teammates and former teammate Baron Davis. The Jazz began a comeback in the fourth quarter after being behind most of the game. With little time remaining, Fisher made a critical defensive stop on Davis that helped send the game into overtime. In the closing minutes, the Jazz held a narrow three-point lead when Deron Williams found a wide-open Fisher for a three-pointer that sealed the emotional victory.

The Jazz eventually defeated the Warriors 4 games to 1, but fell to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals in 5 games. Fisher's dramatic late entrance and performance in the game against the Warriors was nominated for Best Moment in the 2007 ESPY Awards.

Following the season, on July 2, 2007, Fisher announced that he asked the Jazz to release him from his contract so he could devote his energies to fighting his daughter's retinoblastoma. Although denying that Utah's medical care was substandard, he stated that it did not have the "right combination" of specialists. Without officially announcing whether he would play basketball again, he stated that his main concern was finding the right care for Tatum. The Jazz honored his request.

Second run with Lakers (2007-present)

After much speculation, on July 19, 2007, Fisher officially rejoined the Los Angeles Lakers by signing a 3-year contract worth roughly $14 million. He had given up roughly $8 million over 3 years, as he was due about $22 million over the next 3 years in his prior contract with the Jazz. When the 2007-08 season began, Fisher resumed his role as the Lakers' starting point guard, and provided a veteran influence alongside Kobe Bryant to the relatively young Lakers squad. He contributed a solid season, and played a big role especially against the Utah Jazz in the 2008 NBA Playoffs.

NBA career statistics

Regular season

|- | align="left" | 1996–97 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 80 || 3 || 11.5 || .397 || .301 || .658 || 1.2 || 1.5 || .5 || .1 || 3.9 |- | align="left" | 1997–98 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 82 || 36 || 21.5 || .434 || .383 || .757 || 2.4 || 4.1 || .9 || .1 || 5.8 |- | align="left" | 1998–99 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 50 || 21 || 22.6 || .376 || .392 || .759 || 1.8 || 3.9 || 1.2 || .0 || 5.9 |- | align="left" | 1999–00 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 78 || 22 || 23.1 || .346 || .313 || .724 || 1.8 || 2.8 || 1.0 || .0 || 6.3 |- | align="left" | 2000–01 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 20 || 20 || 35.5 || .412 || .397 || .806 || 3.0 || 4.4 || 2.0 || .1 || 11.5 |- | align="left" | 2001–02 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 70 || 35 || 28.2 || .411 || .413 || .847 || 2.1 || 2.6 || .9 || .1 || 11.2 |- | align="left" | 2002–03 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 82 || 82 || 34.5 || .437 || .401 || .800 || 2.9 || 3.6 || 1.1 || .2 || 10.5 |- | align="left" | 2003–04 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 82 || 3 || 21.6 || .352 || .291 || .797 || 1.9 || 2.3 || 1.3 || .1 || 7.1 |- | align="left" | 2004–05 | align="left" | Golden State | 74 || 32 || 30.0 || .393 || .371 || .862 || 2.9 || 4.1 || 1.0 || .1 || 11.9 |- | align="left" | 2005–06 | align="left" | Golden State | 82 || 36 || 31.6 || .410 || .397 || .833 || 2.6 || 4.3 || 1.5 || .1 || 13.3 |- | align="left" | 2006–07 | align="left" | Utah | 82 || 61 || 27.9 || .382 || .308 || .853 || 1.8 || 3.3 || 1.0 || .1 || 10.1 |- | align="left" | 2007–08 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 82 || 82 || 27.4 || .436 || .406 || .883 || 2.1 || 2.9 || 1.0 || .0 || 11.7 |- | align="left" | Career | align="left" | | 864 || 433 || 25.7 || .402 || .373 || .811 || 2.2 || 3.2 || 1.1 || .0 || 9.0 |}

Playoffs

|- | align="left" | 1996–97 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 6 || 0 || 5.7 || .273 || .000 || .667 || .5 || 1.0 || .2 || .0 || 1.3 |- | align="left" | 1997–98 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 13 || 13 || 21.4 || .397 || .300 || .621 || 1.9 || 3.8 || 1.3 || .0 || 6.0 |- | align="left" | 1998–99 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 8 || 8 || 29.8 || .418 || .345 || .800 || 3.6 || 4.9 || 1.0 || .0 || 9.8 |- | align="left" | 1999–00 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 21 || 0 || 15.3 || .430 || .414 || .760 || 1.0 || 2.0 || .5 || .1 || 4.7 |- | align="left" | 2000–01 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 16 || 16 || 36.0 || .484 || .515 || .765 || 3.8 || 3.0 || 1.3 || .1 || 13.4 |- | align="left" | 2001–02 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 19 || 19 || 34.2 || .357 || .358 || .786 || 3.3 || 2.7 || 1.0 || .1 || 10.2 |- | align="left" | 2002–03 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 12 || 12 || 35.3 || .520 || .617 || .818 || 3.0 || 1.8 || 1.5 || .1 || 12.8 |- | align="left" | 2003–04 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 22 || 0 || 23.0 || .405 || .418 || .657 || 2.5 || 2.2 || .8 || .0 || 7.5 |- | align="left" | 2006–07 | align="left" | Utah | 16 || 14 || 27.8 || .405 || .375 || .933 || 1.6 || 2.6 || 1.0 || .1 || 9.5 |- | align="left" | 2007–08 | align="left" | L.A. Lakers | 21 || 21 || 31.6 || .452 || .440 || .836 || 2.2 || 2.5 || 2.0 || .1 || 10.2 |- | align="left" | Career | align="left" | | 154 || 103 || 26.9 || .428 || .428 || .786 || 2.4 || 2.6 || 1.1 || .1 || 8.8 |}

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