Through five NBA championships and seven NBA Finals appearances, Derek Fisher was not just along for the ride. He was a key factor in a number of big games. Photo by Jeff LewisSeeing Derek Fisher in a Thunder jersey is tough to see, but seeing Ramon Sessions in a Lakers uniform is so nice.By Jason LewisSentinel Sports Editor
It is always tough to see a legend go. Yes, Derek Fisher is a Lakers legend. He is not Magic or Kareem. Kobe or Shaq. West or Baylor. But is as much a part of the Lakers folklore as any of those Hall of Fame players. Fisher will not make the Hall of Fame, and he may never get his number retired by the Lakers. But lets not forget his shot with 0.4 seconds on the clock to beat the San Antonio Spurs in a pivotal Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Finals. Without that shot the Lakers most likely would not have made it to the NBA Finals. Lets not forget about the three point shot that Fisher hit against the Denver Nuggets in the closing moments of Game 3 of the 2009 Western Conference Finals. The series was already tied 1-1, and if the Lakers had lost that game they would be facing a 3-1 deficient if they also lost Game 4 in Denver, which they ended up losing. If Fisher does not come through in the clutch they may have watched the Nuggets playing in the NBA Finals, but instead they were in it, and they knocked off the Orlando Magic. And lets really not forget Fisher putting the Lakers on his back in the final minutes of Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Finals in Boston. With the series tied at one game a piece, the Lakers desperately needed a road win to send the series back to Los Angeles, and the earlier that victory came in Boston the better. The Lakers were in the process of blowing a big lead when Fisher started making clutch shots, and the win allowed the Lakers to come home and knock off their long time rival for the NBA title.Fisher is one of the greatest Lakers ever, and it was emotional that he was traded to the Houston Rockets for Jordan Hill, who may not see the court much for the Lakers. Fisher landed on his feet just find, as he is still on a title contending team in Oklahoma City. So Laker fans should not feel too bad with his situation, and seeing that Ramon Sessions lit it up for 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting and 9 assists in Dallas on Wednesday night, Laker fans are feeling really good right about now.The emotions of losing Fisher did not last too long in Los Angeles, as Lakers fans at Staples Center last Friday night were quick to get over it when Sessions took the court. Fans were able to get over it quickly because everybody knew that it was the right thing to do. The cliché “what have you done for me lately” fits this situation perfectly, because Fisher was considered by many as the worst starting point guard in the league. At 37 years old, he simply could not keep up with speedy point guards on the defensive end of the court, and he was not giving the Lakers offense much of anything. As soon as Sessions checked in for the first time as a member of the Lakers, the Staples Center crowd erupted. The crowd continued to scream and shout as Sessions brought the ball up the court for the very first time, and when he made his first basket a few moments later, it seemed as if he hit a game winning shot to in the playoffs. The fans got a little carried away, but that is because everybody has known for sometime that the Lakers needed to address the point guard position sooner than later. If this team was going to have any chance this season, they needed to make a deal. Is Sessions an All Star in the making? It’s possible, but people are getting excited mainly because the point guard position has been so horrible as of late. What the Lakers did was go from horrible to average at that position, which is all they really needed to do. Sessions gives Mike Brown’s offense the true point guard that it needs, and on the defensive end, Sessions is young and quick, so the Lakers should not be abused by opponent’s point guards to the same degree as they did with Fisher. The offense should flow a little better now because defenses did not have to respect Fisher, or back up point guard Steve Blake, driving to the basket. So low post defenders did not have to leave Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol much to help defend a speedy point guard. Sessions penetration should put defenders in conflict more often, which has not been the case with Fisher or Blake. In the game at Dallas, Sessions was one assists from a double double. To put that into perspective, the last time a Laker point guard had a double double was when Fisher did it, in 2009. Sessions’ nine assists in that game was one shy of Pau Gasol’s team high of 10 for this season, and Sessions did that while coming off of the bench. The only question now is when will Sessions become the starter, and when will he get the bulk of the minutes, putting Steve Blake on the bench. Sessions may not be a long term answer, and he certainly is not a point guard to build a team around, but with the Lakers having a Big 3 in Kobe Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum, all they really need is good role players to support them. Fisher and Blake have done a poor job in supporting roles this season, where as Sessions could be the piece that the Lakers were missing to become contenders again.
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