Berry Tramel

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Derek Fisher: Novice coach for a novice president

by Berry Tramel Modified: June 10, 2014 at 11:05 am •  Published: June 10, 2014

Derek Fisher speaks during exit interviews with the media for the Oklahoma City Thunder at the team's practice facility in Oklahoma City, Sunday, June 1, 2014. The Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Derek Fisher speaks during exit interviews with the media for the Oklahoma City Thunder at the team's practice facility in Oklahoma City, Sunday, June 1, 2014. The Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Rats. Derek Fisher is going to coach the Knickerbockers. A guy who’s impossible to pull against coaching a franchise that’s impossible to pull for.

Oh well. It’s not like our rooting interest is going to sway the balance of power in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. We’ll just watch with interest Fisher’s coaching odyssey from a distance. A first-year NBA head coach with no coaching experience working for a first-year team president with no previous management experience.

The truth is, Fisher is a lot more known commodity than is Phil Jackson. Jackson is a counter-culturalist. That’s fine if we’re talking hoops. But most successful NBA general managers work the soles of their feet and live their jobs. Is that Jackson? Is he going to hit Lawrence, Kan., on a January Wednesday night to check out elite players? Is he going to work out draft prospects on an off day of the NBA playoffs? Does he even know how to administrate? Jackson has hired a coaching staff. But has he hired scouts and assistant GMs and a head coach and a training staff and every other part of a franchise? Has he overseen the same?

Has Jackson even displayed the stamina to stay on the job for a year, much less the several seasons it will take to turn around the Knicks?

By comparison, Fisher is Red Auerbach. No one really doubts Fish’s aptitude for coaching. Aptitude for leadership. He knows basketball and he knows men. Read Anthony Slater’s story in the Tuesday Oklahoman here. Nick Collison, no newcomer to the NBA locker room, raved about Fisher’s impact with the Thunder.

Make no mistake, Fisher will have a learning curve as a head coach. Substitution rotations. Motivating players. Getting Carmelo Anthony to pass the ball and defend. Deciding how often to tell Carmelo how Kevin Durant does things.

Will Fisher make a good coach? No way of knowing. Jason Kidd went straight from NBA point guard to NBA head coach, with no lag time. And Kidd struggled in Year 1 with the Brooklyn Nets.

So even though Fish looks the part of a coach and acts the part of a coach and talks the part of a coach, there are no guarantees.

But Fisher seems a lot better coaching prospect than Jackson seems a president prospect.

 

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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