GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Among the many things Derek Fisher will have to figure out as a first-time head coach will be just how much he will want or need Phil Jackson to be involved.
Jackson is ready to help ease Fisher’s transition from player to coach but both said they have to figure out exactly how that dynamic will work.
“We have a transition to make from being coach-player to now executive-coach, and that’s a different relationship," Fisher said. "And so we have some learning to do from that respect. I don’t actually see the problem in having one of the greatest to do what you’re trying to do want to come down and help you a little bit.
“I see that as a positive and something at least that I’m open to,” Fisher said. “We’ll obviously figure out how that works, how that plays out, the best way to do it so that the players understand that I’m the head coach and not Phil. But I don’t see it being an issue potentially as maybe some other people may see it. I’m looking forward to this exchange.”
The hope is that Fisher can ultimately become to Jackson what Erik Spoelstra has developed into under Pat Riley’s guidance in Miami over the years. Fisher spent nine years learning from Jackson as his point guard and the pair won five championships together with the Lakers.
Jackson said he is ready to help Fisher in any way possible but also made it clear he is ready to give Fisher the space the coach needs.
“I see a role simply as a guy who's willing and ready to offer support,” Jackson said. “Willing and ready to step in to a private session if there's need be and talk about alternative things that can happen on the basketball court. I’ve been helping conduct these workouts that we've had here on this court so I've kind of gotten through a little coaching jag that I've had and realized that it’s not my role to be on the court.
"This is where a young man steps in and has the energy to lead the team forward," Jackson said. "But I'm very willing to share what I have and that's why I'm here. Is to kind of flesh out what I've accumulated over 30 years of coaching and what I can give back to this team and the game.”
One of the qualities Jackson found attractive about Fisher is his ability to relate to today’s players.
“I like the fact that he’s current with the players,” Jackson said. “This is a generation that’s a little bit different than the one I grew up with. Guys that were listening to the Grateful Dead are not doing that anymore.
"And Derek has kind of gotten into that beat, and he’s hip-hop ready to get going with this group of guys and their language. So that part of Derek resonated with me.”