For Sunday’s sports section, I wrote about Derek Fisher’s Laker legacy. You can read it here.
Fisher plays his final game against the Lakers in Staples Center on Sunday. He has announced he will retire after the season.
But in his 13 years in Los Angeles, which included five titles, Fisher compiled an impressive track record of clutch shots and memorable moments.
Here are the five most memorable:
5. Comeback song
Date: March 13th, 2001
Stage: Late season game against the Celtics
Explanation: After missing the first 62 games of the 2000-01 season with a stress fracture in his foot, Fisher returned the Laker lineup with a bang. On his first night back, Fisher had 26 points, eight assists and six steals in a dominant win over the Celtics. It spurred on what would be one of the better stretches of his career to close out that season. Phil Jackson, in his book, on the game: “His fearless attack on both ends of the court galvanized the team. That was the turning point in the season.” The Lakers went on to win the title.
4. Slaying the Spurs
Date: May 27th, 2001
Stage: Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against San Antonio
Explanation: Just two months after Fisher’s return, the Lakers were en route to one of the most dominant playoff runs in history. They swept through the Western Conference, going 11-0 against the Blazers, Kings and Spurs. In the final game of the conference finals, Fisher went off for 28 points (one short of his all-time career-high) on 11-of-13 shooting and 6-of-7 from three. He added six rebounds, five assists and an array of momentum jumpers. The Lakers blew San Antonio out by 29, went on to blast past Allen Iverson and the Sixers in the Finals and finished the 2001 playoffs a near-perfect 15-1.
Video - Here’s Part 1 of 11 from that game (visit YouTube for the rest). Fisher, with a headband and full head of hair, hits a jumper at the 7:45 mark in the clip:
3. Redemption in Boston
Date: June 8th, 2010
Stage: Game 3 of the Finals against Boston
Explanation: After a rough Game 2, where he got torched by Ray Allen and took heat from the press for his performance, Fisher captained a defensive lockdown of Allen, who finished 0-of-13 from the field. Then, to top it off, he scored 11 of his 16 points in a clutch fourth quarter, capped by a dramatic and-1 layup to essentially seal it with 46 seconds left (seen below). Phil Jackson in his book: “He fought back tears as he entered the locker room after this game, overcome by what he’d just accomplished.”
Video: Here’s that and-1 layup
2. Over in Orlando
Date: June 11th, 2009
Stage: Game 3 of the Finals against the Magic
Explanation: Trailing by three with 10 seconds left, the Lakers were in danger of dropping a second straight and falling into a dangerous 2-2 Finals tie with Dwight Howard’s upstart Orlando team. But then Derek Fisher hit a pair of the biggest shots of his career. Fisher brought the ball up as the clock ticked under 10 and, with Jameer Nelson strangely playing off of him, pulled up and drained a game-tying three. Then, in overtime, Fisher hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 34 seconds left. It clinched a 3-1 series lead and eventually led to the fourth of his five titles.
Video: Here are both the shots
1. Point Four
Date: May 13th, 2004
Stage: Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against San Antonio
Explanation: One of the most famous shots in NBA history. Following what looked to be an absolute dagger by Tim Duncan, which would have staked the Spurs to a 3-2 series lead, Fisher drilled an improbable catch-and-turn fadeaway in less than half a second to flip the script. It’s known as the .4 shot, representing the amount of seconds that remained when the Lakers took it out. L.A. later lost to Detroit in the Finals, downplaying its historical significance, but it remains the most iconic shot of his impressive 18-year career.
Video: Here’s the entire wild sequence late in the game, capped by Fisher’s shot and immediate sprint to the locker room