The day after the Thunder was eliminated from postseason play, Derek Fisher was forced to sit in front of a room full of reporters and figure out a way, over 20 minutes, to reflect on a 17-year career.
Naturally, one of the most gifted public speakers in NBA history delivered.
But in doing so, Fisher sounded like a man reluctantly coming to grips with the reality that, yes, even he must eventually move on.
“If you watched (Game 6 against San Antonio), my heart is definitely still in it,” Fisher said of playing. “I’m also very realistic about knowing I can’t do this forever, even if I’m physically capable of still doing it.”
The emotion with which Fisher spoke last Sunday, his eyes intermittently moist, his throat unable to shake a nagging and noticeable lump, suggested Fisher’s playing days are done and he knew it.
“For years, I’ve obviously thought about how one day I won’t be able to play and there won’t be a next (year),” he said. “Maybe that time is here.”
Three days later, Fisher reportedly had entered into preliminary discussions with friend, former coach and current New York Knicks president Phil Jackson about the Knicks’ vacant coaching job. He’s been linked to the position since Jackson relieved Mike Woodson of his duties in April.
It’s not the way Fisher envisioned moving into the next phase of his professional life. He always thought he’d take some time off, enjoy his family and then figure out what’s next. But the opportunity that has presented itself might be too good to pass up.
“In the last, I’d say, maybe decade or so, I really felt like my purpose in life or calling so to speak was to be in a leadership position or some position of impact on other people,” Fisher said. “I didn’t know if that would be (from a) philanthropic or community standpoint, in business, in management.”