Welcome to the 7th edition of the Point Guard Project!
Yes, it has been some time.
PGP1 - John Lucus
PGP2 - Luke Ridnour
PGP3 - Jrue Holiday
PGP4 - Ricky Rubio
PGP5 - Royal Ivey
PGP6 - Damian Lillard
This time we're joined by Derek Fisher
The PGP questions:
1) Who did you watch play growing up? And whose game did you try to emulate?
2) What was your first memorable point guard match-up, when you first got into the league?
3) What is your definition for the job of a point guard?
4) How do you determine when to shoot vs. when to pass?
5) What is a typical workout for you like?
6) Do you have any words of advice for young aspiring point guards?
You have heard of this guy before right?
Derek is in his 17th season in the NBA, having had a little stint with Dallas this year before just recently resigning with Oklahoma City. While only boasting career averages of 8.6 points and 3.1 assists per game over his career - something about playing in 8 NBA Finals (most recently last year with OKC) and winning 5 of them commands a bit of respect.
You might remember some of his playoff moments as well:
Game 5 of the 2004 western conference Finals
Game 2 of the 2007 western conference semi-finals
Game 4 of the 2009 NBA Finals
Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Finals
Let's also throw in the fact that he served as president for the NBA players union for 6 years.
Derek is listed at 6'1" and 210 ibs. and was drafted 24th overall by Lakers in the 1996 (the same year as Kobe) out of Arkansas-Little Rock.
Mr. Fisher, welcome to the Point Guard Project:
Summary of answers:
1) Grew up watching all sorts of players on all levels. Magic Johnson was the pro that he loved watching the most, though he never became 6'9" so he didn't try to emulate him. But more so emulated college players because he felt it was something more attainable. He never saw himself as an NBA player!
2) Memorable point guard match-up: John Stockton is always the go to answer. He was smart, tough, could shoot and good at all facets of the game. His IQ was so high that if you made a mistake on either end of the floor, he would make you pay for it. Forced him right away to understand that you have to focus and concentrate on every possession or else you're gonna get taken advantage of.
3) Definition for the job of a point guard: Similar to a handy man - whatever needs to be fixed around the house. It's your job to fix it. Some nights it means score a little more, other nights distribute, some nights lock down defense, some nights you have to attack with penetration, other nights be willing to take and make your jump shot. The final piece is the leadership component. The team needs to look to you as the stabilizer, you don't waiver, it's a stone cold look on your face that never changes. And you're always in control of the situation.
4) When to shoot vs. pass: Pretty simple. If a teammate is open - more times than not you should give them the basketball. But understand your personnel and where certain guys on the floor excel. Each night, you have to be able to differentiate between what's needed for your team to win. Recognize that and set the example for everyone else night in and night out.
5) Typical workout: Increased workload as carer has gone on. Track number of shots more so in the offseason. During the season have a consistent warmup routine with shots and ball handling to keep it tight. The warmup is dependent on how a team will play you and the way they defend: pick and roll situations vs. catch and shoot (don't try to over dribble).
6) For aspiring point guards: You're in a very tough position to point fingers at anyone else if you're not holding yourself accountable at the highest level. You have to take the right shots, play good defense. You have to set all of the examples you want your teammates to be. Realize that it's your team, you're the quarterback, you make things go. No matter what happens everyone has to look to you for composure, poise, and toughness.
Want to hear a little bit of what a 17 year professional does after a double overtime game in the NBA?
Ice feet for 15-20 minutes.
Go to the trainers table for post game stretching for another 15 minutes.
Shower for another 15 minutes.
Go to your locker and put on all sorts of lotions to take care of your skin and body.
And then finally, speak eloquently to some pestilent sports reporter that has waited the whole time to ask you questions for the PGP. Probably the most annoying aspect of it all!
Think you can roll with that for 17 years???
Just a few thoughts.
I love the part about him never seeing himself in the NBA. I'm sure it breeds a certain sense of humility.
And that attitude is totally reflected in the way he approaches the game and views his responsibilities as a point guard: do whatever is necessary on any given night to help your team win.
Of course, it does help when you have Kobe and Shaq on your team early in your career to play off of. Those kind of guys take the pressure off of you and allow you to do the other things necessary for a team to be successful. But truth be told, not everyone understands that and some people try to do too much rather than what is needed.
If you perform fairly well at the Division I level in college, chances are you can compete in the pro ranks. There are certainly people more talented than others and have skill sets that will better translate to the NBA. There are also a group of players that even if their amateur numbers aren't gaudy, are so talented/athletic that they are worth investing in (though sometimes that investment doesn't pan out). But, there is also a bunch of players, perhaps a notch below in talent, that are auditioning for the remaining spots. Many times, for these players it's the intangibles such as attitude, work ethic, and leadership qualities that will distinguish one from another (talent vs intangibles is a debate worth having).
And sometimes, when surrounded by super talents, these players become the "glue guys" that are essential for championship teams. Enter: Derek Fisher.
But was this dude dropping knowledge just on point guards or for life in general?
Never "point fingers at anyone else if you're not holding yourself accountable at the highest level."
Hmmm. Tough to distinguish.
Either way, it is pretty educational!
Oh, and just for entertainment value.
As I approached Derek in the locker room, I over heard him talking to OJ Mayo (shooting guard for Dallas). OJ asked him some question about Kobe (which I didn't hear).
"Stone cold killer."
Now, I am unsure of the context that elicited such a response.
But......Kobe and "stone cold killer?"
Perhaps you can use your imagination.
Much thanks to Derek Fisher for his time!
I hope you enjoyed this edition on the Point Guard Project!
Stay tuned for more!