Derek Fisher Compares Player Debut with Coaching Debut
New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher made his NBA coaching debut on Wednesday, October 29, 2014, in a 104-80 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Almost 18 years prior, on November 1, 1996, Fisher made his NBA debut as a player with the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring 12 points while dishing out 5 assists against the Phoenix Suns. Before Fisher made his coaching debut, I asked him to compare any similar feelings between making his debut as a player and as a coach.
“Anytime I have ever walked out of the tunnel and I approached a basketball court, I have always approached it from the mindset of wanting to win, so those feelings are the same. Every team I have ever been on I have always wanted to do everything I could to help my team win. Some nights were better than others, but that was always the ultimate goal. So walking out of the tunnel tonight, as much that has changed in the 18 years that has not changed at all. The ultimate goal is just to try to help my team win. Now as a coach that’s at the top of the list.”
Coach Fisher was able to help his team win from the bench the night after his debut, shocking the basketball world with the Knicks pulling off a 95-90 road upset over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the debut of LeBron James in his return to Cleveland. For Knicks fans, hopefully this will be the first of many victories for Fisher as head coach of the team.
With Fisher’s arrival, former head coach Mike Woodson is gone, but there are also other players who aren’t in Knicks uniforms, and others who have replaced them. Those who exited are center Tyson Chandler and gun-toting point guard Raymond Felton. New Knicks include point guard Jose Calderon, who missed the beginning of the season due to injury, center Samuel Dalembert, and energizers Quincy Acy and Jason Smith.
For the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony is as close to a given as you get in the NBA, and you can expect him to do what he does arguably as well as anyone in the league: score. Melo also had his finest season rebounding the ball a year ago, but he will need assistance in the areas of scoring and rebounding.
JR Smith should be the second scoring option on the team, but Smith has been inconsistent throughout his career. Who are some of the Knicks who could step in on any given night when Smith is struggling shooting from the floor?
Jose Calderon is a lethal three-point shooter who doesn’t always look for his shot, but when left open, he will make you pay. Iman Shumpert has shown flashes throughout his career, but has lacked the consistency to make him a viable scoring threat. Perhaps in his fourth and final year of his rookie deal, Shumpert is able to take his game to another level, something many have thought possible for the last couple of seasons.
Tim Hardaway Jr. was one of the few bright spots for the Knicks a year ago. The second-year swingman who brings a lot of energy to the team is known for his three pointers and dunks, but also needs to find the consistency that can make him a key contributor.
Then there is perhaps one of the biggest x-factors in the NBA: Amar’e Stoudemire. The former All Star, in his fifth and final year of his deal with the Knicks, talked about regaining his love of the game of basketball, which he had lost due to injury. Though Amar’e may think that the All Star still lives within, and believe me, Knicks fans hope it still does, if he can stay healthy and contribute 75% of what he used to be, then Stoudemire will be a key contributor to the team. Without the big man who stands tall and talented, the Knicks lack consistent front-court scoring outside of Carmelo, who, with the loss of weight over the summer due to diet, may not be capable of banging on the inside like he did last season.
Ultimately, I see this team winning around 45 games, which would make them a playoff team, but will also more than likely lead to a first-round exit. This won’t be the championship year that Knicks fans have yearned for the last four decades, but it will hopefully set the foundation that allows fans to see that it may come in the near future under Derek Fisher, Phil Jackson, and starring Carmelo Anthony.