Fisher won five NBA championships with Kobe Bryant. Fisher, now the head basketball coach at Crespi High, and Bryant came to the Lakers the same year, in 1996.
“From my lens, I was a guy that had just finished playing four years of college basketball. So, it was not within my scope or belief that a kid coming straight out of high school could make the transition soon enough to become one of the all-time greats. So, that’s kind of how it all started. I think that’s what allowed our relationship to obviously come what it became, because I didn’t place the type of legacy defining expectations on Kob that he had for himself. It took me a while to learn that, ‘Yeah, he was capable of it,’ but that was what he really sought for himself too. Like, I didn’t pick up on that really our first year together.
“For me, it was Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Indianapolis (in 2000) when he hit the two shots late in overtime. Shaq had fouled out. Like, the calm and the confidence he had in himself in that moment, when it wasn’t him trying to show-out and show everybody what I can do, it was him stepping up to meet the moment and he had the stage for the first time at that level for everyone to see, like ‘I’ve arrived.’ And I thought those moments in overtime in Indianapolis, for me it took it from what I see everyday in relationships that we’re developing. … He grew up watching Magic and idolizing Magic and then Michael in the ‘90s and other guys, like, he had become one of those guys in that moment. It was big-time. That was after the ankle injury and not playing in Game 3.
“If he was here to give his speech, I think he would definitely find a way to efficiently say what he was always about. He went from a guy that seems to be at least driven only by self and doing for himself. By the time his career culminated and we lost him four years ago, I think if he were present, he would efficiently find a way to speak to how really all of our legacies are defined by how much greatness we have inspired in other people. What have we done to improve the world, improve the lives of other people? What have you done today to help support girls and women in sports and in business? What have you done to today for someone who has worked 20 years in one profession and was forced, whether by Father Time or whatever, and moved on to other walks of life and win Oscars and Emmys and other things that he was achieving? He was a multilayered human being, even though we all remember his greatness as a basketball player. I think he would efficiently find a way to speak to how important it is to dream, to have a vision, to basically make a plan, believe in that plan, execute the plan and inspire others and do it your way, kind of Frank Sinatra-ish kind of, and inspire other people. That was a gift he developed over time.”