Am I talking about his five championship rings? No. Shannon Brown has two rings and is still trying to make the team’s roster at 29 while Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing, true NBA legends, have no league jewelry.
Am I citing Tim Hardaway Jr., who said Derek Fisher is a Hall of Famer? Heck no. Legends are just men who somehow manage to influence people’s lives to a point that they can’t imagine the world without these legends. In the NBA it is no different.
For those who saw Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird playing, it’s hard to imagine the game of basketball without flashy dunks, no-look passes and clutch threes on such a regular basis.
But what does Fisher have to do with all this?
If he manages to make everything that Phil Jackson has envisioned happen, he will be a legend, at least in New York. The New York Knicks are a franchise desperate for success. They haven’t won a championship in over 40 years and have won just one playoff series in the last 15 years. They need the winning culture Jackson and Fisher are promoting, but more importantly, they deserve it.
Fisher has the chance to do what he did best throughout his entire career, which is guide and develop players as a leader and a locker room reference without the pressure to designing a new system of play or even forcing his own method on the court. He will teach the triangle offense, one of the most successful basketball systems in history and something he is very familiar with, but most importantly he will be the guy who the basketball legend Jackson confides in and mentors. His job will be cut out for him, because all the pressure and scrutiny will fall on Jackson.
The summer league has shown that the Knicks are very well served as far as youth and talent, making Fisher’s path to greatness on the sidelines easier than most thought it would be. He needs to focus on doing whatever Mike Woodson failed to do — value the youngsters, keep the chemistry up, don’t do everything in favor of the big names and make everyone buy into his system. And by doing that, along with the triangle offense potential success and Carmelo Anthony performing like he always does, he will surely take the team at least to the Eastern Conference Finals in the next five years. The moment that Madison Square Garden witnesses a Conference Finals or an NBA Finals game, they will look at Fisher as their own legend. The dismal last 15 years will be forgotten, and the Knicks will finally be back on the map.