By TIM DAVID HARVEY
I know making a big, team changing move before the late season trade deadline is a clutch decision, but you don't make a last second play by trading one of your and the NBA's greatest clutch players of all time. Here's guessing and proving the Lakers organisation didn't learn from losing Robert Horry to free-agency in the past. Now even though Jordan Hill is trying to prove he's a big contributor the Lakers could have given up someone else for him. Not Derek Fisher.
The Lakers are supposed to be a "family". Again did they not learn from losing Lamar Odom and all the problems (for each party) that came with that? Guess not. Even Kobe wants to play LeBron this Summer and be the best recruiter and get his boys back this offseason, but just like the signing rules that prevent the team from reacquiring Lamar, this 'aint going to happen yet...if at all.
Sure, all of this is no new news but it's going to make for one hell of an NBA Playoff story come tonight as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder start their playoff series. David Stern couldn't script it or nix it better. The Oklahoma City Thunder are already the league favourites (the experience and competitive advantage of Fisher could be the final piece to this championship puzzle too) to win it all and many consider the Wild West torch already passed from the purple and gold grip to the former Seattle Supersonics.
Now after the Thunder stormed through and swept the reigning champions the Dallas Mavericks who of course swept last years reigning champion Lakers Oklahoma look stronger than ever. As for the Lakers unfortunately after an unnecessarily drawn out seven game series with the Denver Nuggets the dampened Lakers look like they're in for a real dry patch in their abilities to weather Kevin Durant and co's storm over a seven game series...if it even reaches that.
Sure, let's have some hope though. If Andrew Bynum can grow by the game and take on Laker hater Kendrick Perkins in the post and if Ramon Sessions can show more of his potential against Russell Westbrook then who knows. Player for player, bench for bench the Lakers can go toe-to-toe with the Thunder. Their perimeter defensive trio of Matt Barnes, the elbow artist formerly known as Ron Artest and the Doberman could really contain Kevin Durant and as 'Sixth Man of the Year' James Harden goes to war with Metta World Peace, as long as no more 'Ludacris' arms are thrown there will be another match-up to revel in.
Then of course there's Kobe. One of the Lakers and the leagues greatest champions and clutch players, despite some saying he's not as "money" as everyone else affords. There is nobody-you see-who many would want with the game-ball in their hands in the waning, critical seconds of a game. Except...Derek Fisher. Even Kobe knew when to defer to him, like he did this year as D-Fish downed Dallas in a revenge rematch this season. Sure the Lakers may have Steve Blake's threes on point but from the history to the legacy nobody beats Derek Fisher.
The buzzer time with the twine is Derek's major moments and when it comes to winning big games Fisher is king. From 0.4 seconds in San Antonio to silencing Philly, Boston and having more tricks in the bag for the Magic Fisher is THE man. While also taking charges and energizing his team from the locker room, Derek is also much more than a clutch-hitter, he's a big time team player. Still it's behind the three-point line with the game on a similair straight which is where Derek Fisher makes his bread and butter and championship gold.
Now 'the Fish that saved L.A.' could be 'the Fish that slayed L.A.' as these two teams go to battle. Fisher still has love for Kobe and the Laker fans, but when it comes to the court it's all business and in some ways personal. Revenge on the organisation which traded him will be a dish best served in the the fourth quarter. Kobe's going to play Fisher hard and the Lakers former number 2 will do the same in kind. No Laker fan wants to see the guy that helped them win so much be the playoff death of them but if it comes to the clutch can you see anyone else taking that big shot against the Lakers? The NBA powers that be, God's of sports story-telling and the rival Oklahoma Thunder wouldn't have it any other way.
Now the question is will Derek Fisher make the Lakers pay?
Only time will tell...the time that ticks down in the fourth quarter. The games are about to begin. Let's get it on!