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Derek Fisher is unpaid for most thankless job in NBA

Nov 8, 2011, 4:15 PM EDT

Derek Fisher, Spencer Hawes, Maurice Evans

Derek Fisher can’t win right now.

On one side he has teammates (Kobe Bryant and Steve Blake) pretty much ready to take the owners’ last offer and get back on the court. On the other, he has hardline players (Paul Pierce is your ring leader) and agents incensed the union has given up as much as it has already to get near a deal. The hardliners are talking decertification — blowing the union up and getting Fisher out of the game.

Fisher is caught in the middle, and often caught away from his family for extended periods now. His home is in Los Angeles, but lately it has felt more like his home is a hotel room in New York.

And it’s all unpaid. Not a buck. Something Kevin Ding lays out in a fantastic feature in the Orange Country Register (if you click one link and read something today, make it this).

He is not getting paid anything for this. He digs into his own pocket even for meals while holed up in New York for bargaining meetings – sometimes packing for what was supposed to be a couple days and then having to agree to stay for a week or a week and a half. He pays for personal assistants to fly and stay and help him in New York, including a trainer to keep him on track physically to continue his old job as a basketball player at some point.

He tries to justify the expenses to his wife, in addition to his glaring absence at home at the usual offseason time when he gets to reconnect with his kids. Staying committed to serve his fellow players at this critical time, Fisher is left to steal away from New York and back to Los Angeles just to see his kid’s soccer game and then jet back on a red-eye flight.

Working out has at least remained the primary release for Fisher, but even that can get complicated. At 37, Fisher was taking it to Ricky Rubio, 21, last week in a pickup game in Los Angeles and enjoying doing so… but soon enough Fisher was off in the corner of the gym, on his phone, dealing with union business again.

We’re not asking you to shed a tear for Fisher, who has made $57.8 million in salary over the course of his career and is owed $6.8 million more over the next two seasons (minus missed checks because of the lockout).

But the man took on this job and stepped forward to lead the union through this crisis. Not Pierce, not Kevin Garnett, not Dwyane Wade of Blake or Kevin Martin. They are all hecklers from the sidelines. Fisher is out on the court playing every day.

Fisher’s strength is a confidence that doesn’t have him shrinking in the big moments. There is a reason Kobe trust’s Fisher like no other. That confidence is serving Fisher well right now. And as Ding points out:

If Fisher were not involved and it was just Billy Hunter and union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler vs. David Stern, do you think they would be anywhere close to a deal right now? Not likely. This would be a much, much more ugly. The players and fans need Fisher’s level head in there to have any chance of having a 2011-12 season.

  1. acieu - Nov 8, 2011 at 5:50 PM


  2. acieu - Nov 8, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    Agree with this article.

  3. texmex2 - Nov 8, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    dats right….

  4. seanb20124 - Nov 8, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    Poor guy staying in five star hotel in NYC must be so draining

  5. yankeesjetsknicksrangers - Nov 8, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    He is a bright guy and he is learning invaluable information that will guarantee him a job in someones front office after his playing days are over .

  6. kyleortonsarm - Nov 8, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    He’s as bad of a player as he is a negotiator. If he had been in the movie “The Negotiator, everybody would have died.

  7. charlutes - Nov 8, 2011 at 8:09 PM


    Good for the players union for not folding, especially after so many “critics” crawled out from under rocks to peer pressure them into taking Stern’s deal.

    Yes, many players will lose money that can never be recovered if there is a lock out. Thats’s on the owners. For trying to bleed the actually talented players, so they can turn failing businesses from red to black.

    The players are the entire value of the NBA. Hang in there players. Get a good deal.

  8. 06mustang - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:47 PM

    f-ing millionaires that don’t have a clue what it’s like to live day to day. F— the players.

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