An Unreasonable Degree of Mourning - Goodbye Derek Fisher
Sometimes I wonder if I'm a bit of a different sports fan? Probably not. I'm probably no different than a million others, but sometimes it feels like it. I feel particular connections to players more than I do to teams... to individuals and personalities, and I as such I fell hard for Derek Fisher. That's why I was dumbstruck sitting on a dirty sofa in our crooked, creaking rented Brooklyn apartment a few days ago when I heard the news. My heart sank and I couldn't find the right words to explain what it was that I was feeling. I felt something similar when the Detroit Tigers traded Curtis Granderson...and when the Edmonton Oilers dealt Ryan Smyth...and perhaps most grandly, and most distantly when those same Oilers traded away Wayne Gretzky, or when the New York Knicks shuffled Patrick Ewing off into the mist and damp of Seattle. I was hurt and emotionally paralyzed, seemingly not skilled enough at managing my own affections to put such sudden and surprising events in proper perspective, but this time, this deal has left me eviscerated. I haven't been able to muster a thought about it all...and then I read Bill Plaschke's LA Times piece. It read in part:
Responding to the pleas for a blockbuster trade, the Lakers answered their critics Thursday with a whopper.
They traded their soul.
The Lakers traded Derek Fisher, and if you are having trouble swallowing those five words, say them in point-four seconds and you'll really choke on it.
The Lakers traded Derek Fisher, and it feels so wrong, it feels so cheap, and I don't care if he was aging, and slowing, and sliding toward the end of the bench.
He was still Derek Fisher. He was still the guy who could turn final seconds into lasting memories. He was still the coolest guy on the floor and the smartest guy in the room.
He wasn't just the Lakers point guard, he was their conscience, the only guy who ever stole a sideline huddle from Phil Jackson, the only player who others respected enough to treat like a coach.
He wasn't just Kobe Bryant's keeper, he was his buffer, constantly stepping between the Manic Mamba and misunderstandings with the rest of the team, protecting new guys from Bryant's wrath, protecting Bryant from himself.
He was still Derek Fisher...
Every once in awhile sports and sports writing summarizes something in our souls that too often us wordless and gameless mortals have supreme difficulty doing. It's both dramatic and romantic and in being both, perfect.
I'm no Ray Kinsella putting Zoey to bed to stories of Shoeless Joe Jackson, but we sat together on our couch and cheered wildly for Derek Fisher...and Zo fell quickly in love with the color purple, perhaps before those Laker games, but maybe also after. Now it's her favorite color.
I still don't know what to say about the trade, only that it feels like the Lakers traded away my soul as well. Oh, I'll get over it...we always do us naive and hopeful sports fans...but this one hurt and I can't explain exactly why. They say that heaven is that place where you were the most happiest...and understanding that I think Derek Fisher will always be a Laker to me.