Friday, May 11, 2007

The Week it Was...

The world of sports really is the best reality drama going and has been for sometime.
Between the NBA Playoffs, the day to day happenings in the MLB and the off season of the NFL things never slow down. And no, I did not forget about a certain coach of a certain team that just got an extension.

First lets start with Derek Fisher. This guy is a flat out winner and has been for sometime, as intelligent basketball fans we all know that. We remember the three championships with the Lakers where he was the perfect role player to play with Kobe and Shaq. We remember the miracle shot with .4 seconds on the clock in San Antonio that propelled the Lakers past the Spurs into the NBA Finals in 2004. Unselfish, willing to guard anyone on court as well as take a charge from guys a foot taller and a bill heavier Fisher is a symbol of everything that is right about pro sports. Following his time with the Lakers he signed with Golden State where he thought his experience and leadership would guide the young and talented Warriors back to the post season. Plain and simple the Warriors just were not ready to get to that level yet.

Thankfully for Fisher he was able to move on to Utah where the Jazz were in that position under the leadership of Coach Jerry Sloan and emerging young stars Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer. So there the Jazz sat fresh off of a first round game 7 victory in Houston over the favored Rockets. Then as all parents fear something was wrong with their child. Fisher's 10 month old daughter Tatum was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer that required a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, which was performed by retinoblastoma specialist Dr. David Abramson at New York's Presbyterian Hospital. Fisher, of course was with his daughter and family in New York. Family and religion have always been more than important to Fisher but when it was clear the surgery was successful and his daughter would be okay he, his wife and his daughter Tatum boarded a flight back to Salt Lake, having no idea what amazing chapter lay ahead.

The Jazz were about to get under way for Game 2 when Fisher was still in mid flight and rookie guard Dee Brown was set to get the minutes vacated by Fisher's absence. Brown, lightening quick from end to end on the court, was playing his heart out in front of the hometown crowd when he collided with teammate Mehmet Okur and injured his neck. Fisher, of course had no way of knowing this. He simply asked his wife if it was okay if he could play after the plane landed and she said yes. He went right to the arena, threw on the uniform, hit the stationary bike for a few minutes to get his legs warm and went right to the scorers table like this was planned. It wasn't. But it was needed. The Jazz needed what he could bring physically to the court, but what he brought psychologically and emotionally could not have been predicted.

After leading most of the game the Jazz found themselves down five and in danger of going to Oakland tied at one game apiece. Then the veteran, the leader, the guy that has three rings and a ton of big game experience checked into the ball game and threw a wrench in the Warriors plans. Did Fisher do it alone? Not a chance. Did the Warriors blow their chance by missing key free throws when they had their foot on Utah's throat? Absolutely. But it was Fisher that forced a huge Baron Davis turnover towards the end of regulation to keep the Jazz alive and force overtime. It was Fisher whose three pointer in overtime buried the Warriors and it was the emotional lift that Fisher supplied that pushed the team and arena over the top on their way to a 2-0 lead over Golden State. Simply put Derek Fisher has serious onions and his performance under those circumstances will never be forgotten. Tatum Fisher has a heck of a role model for a father.

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