NBA Rumor: Derek Fisher Fired

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Veteran Knicks mostly took the firing of Derek Fisher in stride, understanding that it is part of the business, but they also expressed regret that their former coach took the fall for what they described as a group failure. “I was surprised; in my mind I don’t think the problem was really with one person,” said Robin Lopez, one of four regulars who spoke in the locker room before Tuesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden against the Wizards, shortly after Carmelo Anthony had addressed reporters in a club area just outside the room.

Anthony said Fisher will be back as a head coach somewhere. “My short stint with Fish, my hat goes off to him as a coach, as a player,’’ Anthony said. “I respected [him] a lot especially for coming in and taking on this seat, here in New York coaching the Knicks. First-time coach, so it was a new experience for him. I’m pretty sure me knowing him he will learn from this experience and he will be on somebody else’s sideline pretty soon — if that’s what he wants.’’

Derek Fisher: I want to express my deepest gratitude to James Dolan, Phil Jackson, Steve Mills and the entire New York Knicks organization for giving me this incredible opportunity. I also want to thank my staff, players and the fans for their passion and support. This is a very talented team with strong character and I am confident they will succeed. Obviously, I’m disappointed, but have learned an immense amount from this experience and hope to grow from it.

An opening paragraph references psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow in a thicket of notions about “self actualization,” with a canny suggestion to buy his book on the subject. Jackson returns to planet Earth in the second paragraph, though, when he begins getting specific about management styles. He subscribes to the theory of transformational leadership, which moves an organization toward collective evolution, as opposed to the transactional approach, which promotes the status quo. “This is also a clue for people that inquire about who might work as a leader for this Knick team,” Jackson wrote. “Inside that style of play for that leader is the idea that there should be a system of play that includes the group. [Ed. note: Huh????] How that is done can include using the Δ system of basketball, but doesn’t exclude other systems that include group play.”

As a young NBA coach, the fastest path to losing a locker room comes this way: Behave like a player. To fly to California and visit a girlfriend in the middle of the New York Knicks’ training camp – engaging Matt Barnes in a Tom-and-Jerry tussle-and-chase – cost Derek Fisher dearly. Fisher lost the moral high ground inside Madison Square Garden, lost a measure of gravitas as a leader of men. The embarrassment of his unfilmed “Real Housewives” episode didn’t cost Fisher his job as Knicks coach, but it did start him on a slippery slope toward his firing on Monday.

“There was film I didn’t like in one of those ballgames and I asked the coaching staff to come in and sit down,” Jackson said. “It was an off day, and some of the coaches weren’t notified.” Later, Jackson expounded, asserting that he’d surrounded Fisher with experienced assistants — namely, Jackson confidants Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons — and that Fisher had not embraced their input as much as he could have. “If he didn’t take advantage of that, maybe that’s part of it,” Jackson said. “… Derek hired some young guys who came in and have helped him and have a really good work ethic and really met the standard that he likes. There wasn’t really a consensus in our staff and we decided we needed to have a real good consensus in the working of the staff – interchanging of ideas, good communication.”

Matt Barnes threw a punch at Derek Fisher that cost him two games, but after the Knicks coach’s firing, Barnes posted a picture worth a thousand words. In the hour after Fisher was fired by the Knicks, Barnes took to Instagram to post a photo of himself staring into the camera with a look that pretty much said it all, no caption needed. Barnes and Fisher have been at war with each other ever since Oct. 3, when Barnes caught Fisher at the home of his estranged wife Gloria Govan.

“Every situation is different,” Scott said on coaching firings. “It really depends on what the GM and owners want. Some are unrealistic in some instances. I have no clue, to be honest with you about what most teams want. Fisher is a prime example. This business is very, very hard to deal with a times. But you have to deal with it. This is the chosen profession for us. You’re going to deal with sometimes getting fired unexpected and sometimes it’s warranted. You just have to deal with it.”
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