Derek Fisher’s jitters should be over -- for now.
“It was a great feeling,” Fisher said after the game. “There was definitely some emotion coming into the building today and this morning. I started to really think about what this meant.”
What it means is that one of Phil Jackson’s former locker room leaders will join a short list of players who have made the immediate jump to coaching, a trend which is becoming more popular in recent years.
As Jackson and Alan Houston watched from the stands behind the Knicks bench, Fisher roamed the sidelines in his Vegas-appropriate khaki shorts and grey polo, commanding the Knicks unsurprising triangle offense.
“The players made me look probably better than I am right now,” hypothesized the always modest Fisher. “But the same way that I asked them to work hard and continue the things they need to do to get better, that’s what I’ll do.”
Of course, Fisher isn’t in this alone. A first-time head coach can’t come in an immediately expect to make an impact. That’s why you see all these young coaches latching onto experienced assistants in their inaugural seasons.
Jason Kidd had Lawrence Frank last year with the Brooklyn Nets. Freshly minted Golden State coach Steve Kerr has brought in the experienced Alvin Gentry. Fisher, meanwhile, has Kurt Rambis, a long-time Jackson assistant who has been a head coach with the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves. Even with help on the bench, the first-time coach admits that summer league is a learning process for everyone.
“We’re cramming months-worth of information into these guys in four days and trying to get them out here ready to play,” says Fisher, who isn’t in a much different position than the players, himself. “It’s not an easy task.”