Warriors versus Utah Jazz Playoff Series I played with Derek Fisher for three years while playing for the Lakers and he is one of the most professional people I have ever met in any field. When I got to the Lakers Derek was going through a very serious foot injury and was on the injured list for some time. One time while he was injured we as a team were playing terribly. Before one of the games, Derek gave an impassioned speech while in street clothes and really tried to encourage the guys to take up their level of play a notch. Everyone in the locker room from Shaq to Kobe to Slava Medvedenko was all ears. Afterwards, Phil Jackson referred back to Derek as the emotional leader of our group.
Derek was always working on his jump shot. There were so many days when Derek would be there early at the gym with his brother feeding him passes and giving him feedback on fine-tuning aspects of his jumper.
Later that same season in the playoffs Derek had a monster game against the San Antonio Spurs and hit something like seven or eight three pointers in a blowout win for us. A few days later when we were watching the game film in our “warrior room,” Phil Jackson commented on how Derek had played so very well, and yet Derek did not get involved in any kind of self-promotion, or on-court antics that are so popular in the game today. Phil Jackson rarely was impressed with individual accomplishments, but he was keenly appreciative not only for how well Derek played, but how Derek Fisher carried himself while playing so well.
The Warriors vs. Jazz series is a great one. I was so happy for how well Derek played tonight for his team. I actually want the Warriors to win because I grew up about 30 minutes from Oakland and I know the Warriors team pretty well. Don Nelson was the coach of the warriors when I was in high school and I even worked at the “Don Nelson Basketball camp.” But above all, I’m just so happy that Derek Fisher’s daughter is doing well after her surgery. I hope that Dee Brown’s injury is okay and I hope that he’s able to make a full recovery. Detroit is my favorite to win the title.
When I think of the New Jersey Nets I think of Jason Kidd. When I think of St. Joseph’s High School in Oakland, California I also think of Jason Kidd. My high school played against Jason Kidd twice growing up (I think we were 1-1), then he stayed in the Bay Area for college at UC Berkely. I have followed Jason very closely over the years and he is a class act all the way around.
After we beat the Nets tonight Mark Blount and I were talking about the job Jason does as a point guard for his team. Jason is just so fast pushing the basketball and he is a monster when it comes to rebounding. The fact that Kidd is the leading rebounder for the Nets shows you the kind of desire that he plays with. Blount was talking about how Jason’s knee is just finally starting to show the kind of full recovery from the mircro-fracture surgery he had a few years ago. “He’s been playing injured the past couple of years out there,” Blount was telling me. And tonight we saw his speed and his quickness with his knee at 100% once again.
All I can say is that Jason Kidd must be like the really expensive kind of French Cheese that gets better and better with age. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone of his age rebound the ball, or push the ball up the court the way he does. His play is a credit and an asset to the game of basketball at every level. He seems to get better, faster and stronger with each year that passes.
On a different note, I saw an old friend in Memphis two days ago–Jerry West. Jerry West drafted me as he was the General Manager of the Lakers at the time. When we walked in the FedEx forum in Memphis for shootaround, Jerry ducked in to say hello to KG and a few others. When I was talking to him, different people would stop by and say to him “What’s up logo?” I always knew that everyone considers Jerry West to be the person from which the NBA logo was fashioned, but I had never really heard anyone call him “LOGO” in L.A. It was pretty cool. To this day I will never forget the way that West mentored everyone on the team in Los Angeles. He would talk to us, build us up and spend time with us outside of basketball. I will always remember being invited over for dinner at the West’s home in the Bel-Air area. He gave me some pointers and a few thoughts on what I could do differently on the court to become a better player. When West took the Memphis job, Magic Johnson came out and commented publicly about how Jerry was always the first one to call or go over to the house of someone in the Lakers family when there was a death in the family, a sickness or a tragedy.