Derek Fisher was one of the most important players on the Los Angeles Lakers that won five titles between the 2000s and 2010s, sharing touches with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Pau Gasol and more players during his two stints with the purple and gold. Fisher became a great player in Los Angeles and he left his mark on the team. The love and respect he has for the organization are huge and he's not afraid of speaking his mind when it comes to the Lakers.
He recently talked with HoopsHype to discuss a variety of topics, including how he perceives the Lakers now that they won their 17th NBA championship and tied the Boston Celtics as the highest-winners in league history. Fisher is convinced that there is no better franchise in the NBA than his beloved Lakers.
You highly contributed to five of the Lakers’ 17 titles. Now that the team has caught up with the Celtics, do you believe the Lakers are the best NBA franchise ever?
DF: Well, I’ve believed that for a long time. I grew up as a Lakers fan and watching Magic [Johnson] and ‘Big Game’ James Worthy and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] and Byron Scott and AC Green and Michael Cooper… I could never have imagined being one of those guys 20 years later. So I’ve always thought that the Lakers were by far the best basketball franchise, and arguably one of the greatest franchises in all of sports. The number of titles is obviously an easy thing to look to. But that’s what the rest of the world will try to tell you, right? It’s like, based on these external results, it’s whether or not you size up to the competition. And one thing we know about being great is that it’s not about what other people think, or what numbers you have compared to somebody else, but what you actually are. So the 17 titles I think is a great accomplishment. I think there are more to come. But I’ve always believed that the Lakers are the best in basketball and that’ll never change.
He also talked about his Lakers Mt. Rushmore, picking three players right away but doubting for the last spot. In the end, he claimed the Lakers' Mt. Rushmore should have eight places instead of four.
DF: Oh my gosh. I mean… That’s tough! Obviously, Kobe goes up there, Magic goes up there, Kareem goes up there… The difficulty for me is like I want to put Shaq [O’Neal] up there but you can’t leave out Jerry West, you can’t leave out Elgin Baylor… The Lakers need two Mount Rushmore, we need at least eight places, not just four [laughs].
When asked if the Lakers could repeat next year, he said that as long as LeBron James and Anthony Davis are healthy, the Lakers will have a chance to compete in the league.
DF: Having a season that was disruptive in terms of COVID-19 and kind of in the single-site bubble scenario, that does have some impact on the way teams were able to perform. I do think the Lakers were still the best team overall. But you know, now that they’ve kind of agreed on what looks like a 72-game schedule, you’re going to start to introduce travel again, injuries are going to have a different impact when you start to stretch out the season more along the regular line, so we’ll see. I think that if the Lakers can stay healthy, as long as they have LeBron [James] and Anthony Davis, that’s not a bad place to start in terms of having the best chance to win the championship again.
Fisher is a legend in LA and he does love that city and that team. He's currently the head coach of the Sparks in the WNBA. Perhaps we'll see him in the NBA again in a couple of years.