Skip to content

Should the Lakers retire Derek Fisher's number?

Jun 18, 2010, 6:02 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for Fisher Trophy.jpg

Few players have won as many championships with one organization as Derek Fisher has with the Los Angeles Lakers. And Fisher wasn’t just a bystander while the Lakers won those five championships — his statistics were never great, but he made big shots when the Lakers needed him to.
He’s also beloved around the league and in Los Angeles, generally regarded as one of the league’s smartest players and a true class act off the court. He’s provided every intangible generally associated with players who get their numbers retired — loyalty to the franchise, leadership, and an important figure both in the NBA community and the Los Angeles community. 
The post-millenial Lakers are a modern dynasty, and Fisher has always been a part of that dynasty. Here’s the dilemma: with all the success the Lakers have had over the years and how many great players have worn the purple and gold over the years, did Derek Fisher do enough to put his jersey alongside those of the greatest Lakers ever? 
M. Haubs of the Painted Area has some thoughts on this dilemma:
Let’s just focus on the L.A. Lakers players with retired numbers. There are seven, and all are Hall of Famers as well:
• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
• Elgin Baylor
• Wilt Chamberlain
• Gail Goodrich
• Magic Johnson
• Jerry West
• James Worthy
Let’s also assume that Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal will eventually see their jerseys raised to the rafters. That’s two more Hall of Famers, a standard that Fisher certainly falls far short of…
It’s certainly remarkable, sitting here on championship night, to think that Derek Fisher’s number 2 might not be retired. I’d argue that 28 other teams would do so in a heartbeat…
Yet it’s also hard to believe that, if Derek Fisher is worthy of being immortalized by Laker Nation, that at least Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and Jamaal Wilkes, and possibly A.C. Green, aren’t equally deserving of the honor. I guess that’s why it’s probably good to wait a few years for a different historical perspective, and to get away from the emotion of the championship moment.

Anyone who has watched the Lakers win these past five titles will always remember the contributions made by Derek Fisher. What’s left to decide now is whether his jersey should be hung up and his exploits be made required knowledge for the next generation of Laker fans. Derek Fisher has earned as much respect as any NBA player to ever wear sneakers. Only time will tell if he deserves glory as well. 

  1. KBZ - Jun 18, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    That should be “29 other teams”. The Celtics would retire his number in a heartbeat. they’ve retired about 92 numbers total, right?

  2. P. Ami - Jun 18, 2010 at 8:55 PM

    +1 on comment #1.
    I think the Lakers should create some sort of banner and raise the number of important contributors to the franchise, without actually retiring the number.
    Fish, LO, Coop, Byron Scott, Wilkes, Nixon, Horry, Happy, etc… Maybe they put up a Miken era banner, one for the Logo era, another for Showtime, and another for the Shaq/Kobe/Pau era. Personally I like the exclusivity of the club for retiring numbers with the Lakers. I also like the idea of celebrating the role players.

  3. GIO_WHAT!! - Jun 19, 2010 at 4:05 AM

    I think fisher should go up there, or they should make another banner for the “reserves”. Also, is it a given that Shaq WILL be up there? I think Pau will have his name up there too. Dude is amazing and he could have 4 or possibly 5 titles by the time he retires

  4. lkr_lrkr - Jun 19, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    The Lakers have a clear standard for retiring numbers – Hall of Fame.
    You either have to be there, or it has to be a foregone conclusion that you’re going there. In 1997(?), Gail Goodrich was inducted into the Hall, and Eddie Jones had to change his number from 25 to 6.
    I absolutely LOVE Derek Fisher, but here’s the numbers that have to be retired before #2 can go up on the wall:
    52 – Jamaal Wilkes
    21 – Michael Cooper
    5 – Robert Horry
    I give Fish the nod over B. Scott, AC Green, Nixon, LO, etc.
    Here are some other issues to consider:
    1. Should the Lakers retire Bob McDoo’s #11? He’s in the Hall of Fame & he was a key contributor to the 1982 title (and a hood ornament in 1985). Tough call.
    2. Has Pau Gasol done enough as a Laker right now to get his number retired? His body of work in International competition alone gets him into the Hall of Fame, making his work with the Lakers the icing on the cake. But, he’s only been her for 2.5 (admittedly, fantastic) years. I say, 2 more years playing at this level &/or 1 more title cements it.
    3. Jerry Buss is now in the Hall, which means he gets a banner up there as a contributor, a la Chick Hearn. Question what image should be on that banner? A Larry O’Brien trophy? A cigarette? A martini glass? A Beaker (he has a PhD in Chemistry)? A real estate sign (how he made his fortune & a SOCAL iconic symbol)? A playboy bunny? Pocket Aces? All of the above?

  5. TheColonel - Jun 19, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    I don’t think Fisher will make it, and I don’t think he should. Plenty of great teams have had role players like him step up time and again during championship runs, and you don’t see their numbers in the rafters. Have the Bulls retired Paxson’s number, or Kerr’s? Will the Spurs retire Kerr’s or Horry’s? Will the Lakers retire Horry’s, for that matter? The standard is too high, particularly for a franchise like the Lakers. (Side note: I’m actually kinda surprised they don’t have Miken’s number up there. I know he was a Minneapolis Laker, but it’s still the franchise.)
    As for their next retirements, I’d say Kobe and Shaq, definitely. Gasol does have a good shot, though. He’s only 29 and probably has another three or four prime years left and maybe another two or three of decent play after that.

  6. Jeff - Jun 19, 2010 at 9:15 PM

    I don’t like the idea of a reserve section. It’s almost a backhanded compliment.
    That said, I’d be in favor of retiring Fisher’s number. Why? Ask yourself if when Scott, Cooper, Horry or Wilkes retired if there was this kind of discussion about them? I don’t recall it being this prevalent if there was. Fisher’s practically a lifer, has has huge iconic moments in big games multiple times, is the clubhouse co-leader, president of the players association and so on. These put him above the other non-HOF players.

  7. Jeff - Jun 19, 2010 at 9:16 PM

    I don’t like the idea of a reserve section. It’s almost a backhanded compliment.
    That said, I’d be in favor of retiring Fisher’s number. Why? Ask yourself if when Scott, Cooper, Horry or Wilkes retired if there was this kind of discussion about them? I don’t recall it being this prevalent if there was. Fisher’s practically a lifer, has has huge iconic moments in big games multiple times, is the clubhouse co-leader, president of the players association and so on. These put him above the other non-HOF players.

  8. Eric Morales - Sep 26, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    Yes they should retire number 2 along with the another laker legends.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Stephenson goes elsewhere for his future
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (4455)
  2. L. Stephenson (3666)
  3. L. James (3530)
  4. C. Boozer (3220)
  5. A. Wiggins (3190)
  1. R. Allen (3165)
  2. K. Bryant (3028)
  3. E. Bledsoe (2966)
  4. D. Rose (2791)
  5. D. Wade (2407)