Derek Fisher is best known for hitting the game-winning shot for the Lakers against the Spurs in the 2004 playoffs and for being a part of five NBA championship teams, playing under Phil Jackson and with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Pau Gasol.
Fisher now is saddled with having guided the Knicks to their first 60-loss season in their 69-year history. No one wants to be known for that, especially a first-time coach having to learn on the job. But Fisher's outlook is that the experience will make him and the players stronger.
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Fisher, who signed a five-year deal last June, could be a motivational speaker if he doesn't make it as a coach. He talks about overcoming adversity and how it's all part of becoming a champion. He said this season hasn't soured him; he enjoys coaching and the challenges he continues to face.
"Passion for a craft or a job shouldn't really be always based on the results of it and how it goes," Fisher said. "Some of the most successful people in things have come from failure. That's really what makes you a champion ultimately is that ability to accept failure, learn from it, drive from it, push from it. That's what we're trying to get our players to do and that's what I'm going to continue to do."
The Knicks (14-60) were blown out by 31 in their record-setting loss at Chicago on Saturday night and have dropped their last six by an average of 20 points. Barring some unexpected wins in the final eight games, they should finish with the NBA's worst record. The reward for that futility will be one of the top four picks of the draft.
With Jackson having stripped the roster of talent, it's hard to gauge whether Fisher is a good coach. He will be graded and evaluated next season, when the Knicks should have a healthy Carmelo Anthony, a high lottery pick and better personnel, presuming the Knicks pick up quality free agents this summer.
ESPN.com already has voted Fisher 30th among 30 NBA coaches, but he wasn't fazed by it.
"I used to hear about or see similar rankings when I was a player and how low I used to rank, and the 200-plus players above me didn't have near the success that I had before," Fisher said. "There will be coaches that always will be better than me and more successful and have better records, but I don't need validation from 200 random people on a website to tell me what I can and can't do."
Right now the only thing that matters is that Fisher has Jackson's support. Fisher said they talk just about every day about "goals" and what they're trying to accomplish, but he knows the results eventually will matter.
"He's holding us as accountable as anyone," Fisher said. "It doesn't matter what our roster is comprised of in terms of experience, games played or not. There are things that we still can control that we have to do on the floor. That's our job and that's what he tells us every day.
"This is my first year. Sometimes the support of the front office isn't always a good thing for some coaches. When you get the dreaded support of the front office, sometimes things don't end well. From my standpoint, our relationship will always go well. I think he'll always be supportive of me. He's my boss. If something changes one day, it changes, but it won't change the relationship we have."
Notes & quotes: The Knicks signed guard Ricky Ledo to a second 10-day contract.