Postgame Spread
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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I Apologize For Hating You When You Were On The Lakers, Derek Fisher    

[also known as Experiments In Late-Night Blog Composition; we'll see how maudlin this turns out]

The announcement that Derek Fisher has been granted a release from his contract in Utah reminded me that he made his way onto my Apology For Lifetime Of Hate List. It's a short list, way shorter than its non-apology counterpart. It's pretty much Tim Wakefield, Glen Wesley, Matt "I had no idea you were injured when you sucked so much ass!!!" Clement, and now Fisher.

When Fisher hit the shot of his life to beat San Antonio in the Western semis a few years back, I really despised him. Deeply. I couldn't stand that some little shit point guard on the Lakers had stepped up and hit a miracle shot to win a series. I hated that the Lakers were going to plow through the playoffs again (they didn't) at the expense of a team I kinda liked at the time (hilariously, the Spurs). I blamed Derek Fisher for that. And I never forgave him.

His out-of-nowhere act in the semis against Golden State turned all of that around.

We'd been told throughout the broadcast that Fisher was dealing with "family issues." Stuff like that gets overblown so often that it's tough to feel much in the way of sympathy or connection, but something felt real about the concern for a backup player on the Jazz. Even though my instinct was to downplay what I was hearing, I chose not to.

He flew into Salt Lake City from New York during the game, making it to the court midway through the third quarter. And when he did arrive, the crowd blew up. Just showing up and helping out, apparently, would have been enough.

That he ended up winning the game for Utah, after all he'd been through that day, was legendary.

I was pulling for Golden State, but how could anyone be unimpressed by Fisher's overtime heroics? No warm-ups, no routine, no nothing... just fly into town, put on your pants, and win the game. It's that easy.

But it was his post-game interview, during which he disclosed his daughter's retinoblastoma, that really did it. That was as genuine and just flat-out true a moment as you'll ever see from a public figure of any kind. They're few and far between, especially in the NBA. It was inspiring to see him open up like that, and realize what he'd been through the previous few days.

That's when I started feeling like a dick for hating him. Not just because his daughter has cancer, but because deep down these are still just regular people. They're not Haterade receptacles. It shouldn't take something like this to remind us how little we I know about these people. Any judgments you I have about some athlete, as a person, are probably just completely wrong.

(Well, not any judgments; I'm pretty confident that Albert Belle really is a world-class cocksucker. But the average guy? Why hate someone for hitting a shot? It's stupid.)

So, I'm sorry, Derek Fisher. I'm sorry for being an asshole to you when you were on the Lakers. Privately. In my mind. I shouldn't have done that. You're okay with me now. Best of luck.

Also, Boston has some incredible medical facilities. And our point guard situation is pretty dubious. Just sayin.

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