Derek Fisher gained Kobe Bryant’s respect by standing up to him

first_img“Because we were better than them,” Fisher deadpanned. Road to recoveryFisher usually offers an on-point snapshot on Bryant based on 12 years as a teammate and someone who frequently stays in touch.So it hardly seemed surprising Fisher repeated his optimism on Bryant returning from a surgically repaired right shoulder that the Lakers estimate will keep him out for seven more months. Yet, Fisher’s analysis on what motivates Bryant seemed unexpected. “It’s not a statistical thing. It’s not about him coming back to match what he’s done in years past,” Fisher said. “He’s enjoying the process with having to relearn how to play the game in a different way and how to accept some of the things that are inevitable at this point in his life.”Fisher also noticed how Bryant has changed his public demeanor, most notably his more engaging interactions with reporters that he has shown in the past four seasons.“I’ve always been really really excited and happy to see his development as a person and as a man and how much fun he’s having,” said Fisher, who noted Bryant’s recent Showtime documentary. “He’s giving the people a feel for who he is beyond the game. That was the guy I hung out with everyday for 12 years.”Injury updateThe Lakers’ Jeremy Lin (thigh contusion) and Wesley Johnson (calf) have recovered from their respective injuries that kept them out of Wednesday’s practice.EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of the story incorrectly listed Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher’s rookie season. The duo’s first year in the NBA was the 1996-97 season. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Well before they won all five of their NBA titles together, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher forged a bond that had nothing to do with collecting championship hardware.It traced back to their rookie year in the 1996-97 season with the Lakers on the practice court.“There were times we basically came to blows and weren’t going to give in,” said Fisher, who currently coaches the New York Knicks. “Although (Kobe) became one of the greatest players to ever play far better than I am, he respected the fact that I was somehow irrational to believe I could possibly be as good as him. I was going to fight for everything I could fight for.”Lakers coach Byron Scott, who mentored both Bryant and Fisher as rookies, sat and enjoyed the frequent one-on-one matches. center_img “I witnessed them going at each other, but never to the point where it almost got to blows,” Scott said before the Lakers hosted the Knicks on Tuesday at Staples Center. “But if you ask Kobe, he respects Derek as much as he respects anybody because of the fact they’re so much alike.”Perhaps not in talent level. Bryant stands in third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Fisher cemented himself as a reliable role player capable of hitting a clutch shot or taking a key charge. But Scott called Fisher “one of the toughest guys you’ll ever cross.”Scott also maintained that the Lakers’ reserves that featured himself, Fisher and Bryant usually won in pickup games against the Lakers’ starters that included Shaquille O’Neal, Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones.“All I can remember was Nick and Eddie saying, ‘Why don’t you guys take it easy today?’” Scott said laughing. “They were always getting after them, and a lot of that was D-Fish and Kobe. I know when we started the game, they’d be beating us like six or eight points because we had nobody for Shaq. As soon as he went out, we destroyed them.”Fisher called Scott’s version of events “very accurate.” So how did that happen?last_img

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