LOS ANGELES — Derek Fisher doesn’t think he lost the locker room and believed the Knicks players respected him and were still playing hard for him when Phil Jackson fired him last month.
In a nearly 1,100-word Sports Illustrated essay entitled “The Truth,” Fisher wrote that his well-documented fight with Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes didn’t lead to his dismissal.
“When the organization informed me of its decision, the conversation was short,” Fisher wrote. “The underlying message was that things weren’t working out the way they had hoped. I thanked management for the opportunity, and that was it.
“At no time did anyone at that meeting express to me that stories about my personal life were distracting from the collective task at hand, or — more important — that any of my players had expressed to management that they had lost confidence in me as their coach. Nothing remotely like that was ever brought up or discussed.”
Jackson said at the news conference after Fisher’s ouster that the Barnes situation wasn’t why he was fired.
Fisher was 23-31 when he was let go on Feb. 8 and 40-96 overall. The Knicks have gone 4-8 under interim coach Kurt Rambis. Fisher believes he was building something, and he said some players have reached out to him in the past month.
“We were going through a difficult 1-9 stretch, but to its credit, the entire team was still responsive to my leadership, decision making and coaching,” Fisher wrote. “They hadn’t given up on me. They weren’t questioning my integrity. My relationships with my players were good and becoming stronger.
“At no time was my commitment to turning things around in question. As for my players, I was a guy that a lot of them had played against, so once I became their head coach, I think they had a tremendous amount of respect for my work ethic and dedication to righting the ship. They saw how hard I worked, how much time I put in. Many of them reached out to me after I was fired. I still hear from some of them.”