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Knicks coach Derek Fisher: I gotta be me on sideline

Head coach Derek Fisher of the New York

Head coach Derek Fisher of the New York Knicks looks on during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on Dec. 31, 2014 in Los Angeles. Credit: Getty Images / Stephen Dunn

SAN FRANCISCO - Derek Fisher understands that Phil Jackson wants him to show more emotion on the sideline. But Fisher said that's not him and that he has to be his own person.

Jackson, the Knicks' president, praised Fisher on Thursday for his demeanor this season. But Jackson said that if he were coaching this team, he would have been thrown out of some games.

Fisher is navigating through some very choppy waters in his first season as an NBA head coach. He has many young and unproven players finishing out the season, so he doesn't think losing his cool is the right approach.

"I'm not him, and I'm not coaching the teams that he coached," Fisher said after practice Friday at the University of San Francisco. "I have to kind of measure that based on who our team is. We don't have enough of a history together, and obviously with a lot of new guys, a lot of changes, I don't think it would be fair to just leave them out on the field while I'm in the back.

"I don't think Phil made the difference between how many calls we got or not when we were playing. So I don't know if I ever will make that much difference when it comes down to playing the game and winning the game."

The Knicks, who face the NBA-best Warriors on Saturday night, are a league-worst 13-51. There have been many nights when Fisher could have blown up at the referees or his team, but it's been rare for him to have in-game outbursts -- Fisher has seven technical fouls -- or be critical of the Knicks.

Earlier this season, there was a report that some Knicks were upset that Fisher wasn't fighting for them. Fisher acknowledged he has to do that, and said there are other ways besides getting on officials.

"When I feel it and I feel it's necessary, then I'll do it," he said. "If I'm in the huddle right before that, I'm asking these guys to stay composed and be poised and don't let your emotions get the best of you, I think on some level, I have to also exemplify that.

"But I also have to fight for them and stand up for them as well. But I don't think just getting technical fouls is the only way to do that. I think they know that by our experiences, our conversations, things I say to them off the court as well."

Fisher, who was known as a strong leader as a player, said he's vocal with players away from the cameras and the media.

"There are times to be demonstrative and aggressive in front of people to send a certain message," he said. "Other times, you do it behind closed doors. I am who I am. The leadership I exemplified as a player was similar. I'm learning my way as a coach on when to do certain things and when not to.

"This is my first year. As the years go by, that may increase. I may be more demonstrative on the sidelines. Right now, I'm learning so much and I think it's important that I'm there and I'm present and I'm alert and I'm aware, and if my emotions aren't in control, I can't be those things."


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