Tip-Off Timer: Derek Fisher's Lucky No. 4
Tip-Off Timer counts down the days until the first game of the 2009-10 season. On Friday, there are 4 days remaining.
Point guard Derek Fisher doesn't wear No. 4 for the Los Angeles Lakers, but he probably should. It's the number that has defined him.
Four has meant good fortune for Fisher.
His catch-and-shoot basket with .4 remaining in Game 5 was the defining moment for the upset of the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference final of 2004.
It's been replayed on video a million times, a hero-creating moment while bigger stars like Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant took a secondary role. In one of the most thrilling finishes in playoff history, Fisher was following a go-ahead, desperation fadeaway by Tim Duncan over the outstretched arm of O'Neal.
Fisher outshined them all with a turnaround score over Manu Ginobili.
More recently, it was the 4th quarter of Game 4 at the NBA Finals last spring -- with the Orlando Magic on the verge of tying the series -- when Fisher again made a series-defining shot.
Trailing by three points with 10 seconds remaining, the Lakers drove the length of the floor, leaving Fisher to drain a 3-point with 4.6 remaining, sending the game into overtime. It was there that Fisher beat the Magic with another 3-point basket, giving them a 94-91.
And while much was made of Kobe Bryant winning his first NBA title without O'Neal at his side, it also marked championship No. 4 for both Bryant and Fisher, the workmanlike, 35-year-old point guard.
Fisher came into the league unheralded after four years at Arkansas Little Rock, drafted 24th by the Lakers. He left college after averaging 12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists. He left Los Angeles after that 2004 season to sign a lucrative deal with the Golden State Warriors, where he averaged 4.1 and 4.3 assists in back-to-back seasons.
He really should wear No. 4.