Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fisher Soldiers On

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fisher Soldiers On

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- While his abilities as a team president remain to be seen, Phil Jackson has maintained his reputation as one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, guiding the Bulls and Lakers to 11 titles.

But another member of Jackson's coaching tree, Brian Shaw, joined the ignominious pile of discards -- Jim Cleamons, Bill Cartwright, Kurt Rambis, Tim Floyd -- when he was fired by the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday morning.

That left just two coaches with ties to Jackson and the system that he made his own: Steve Kerr, who has eschewed the system while leading the Golden State Warriors to the best record in the Western Conference this season, and Derek Fisher, who has served as the on- court proxy for Jackson in New York.

It's an understatement to say that Fisher -- whose team suffered its most lopsided loss of the season Tuesday, 124-86 to the Sacramento Kings -- has not enjoyed the success that Jackson did in his coaching career after Kerr spurned Jackson's offer to take the job. But while Shaw was put out of his misery in his second season in Denver, departing with a 56-85 record, Fisher is left to soldier on.

"It was definitely not the level of character and integrity that this group had been showing in recent weeks,'' Fisher said. "Even in some losses that we've had, they've shown more. I think character and kind of grit as a group, that was the most disappointing part.''

He inherited a 37-win team from the fired Mike Woodson after Jackson took over as team president. Kerr was the first choice, a former player for Jackson who had discussed a coaching career with him for years. When Kerr opted for Golden State, Jackson reportedly preferred Shaw, who had served as an assistant to him in Los Angeles, and whom he had tried to push the Nets to hire after Lawrence Frank was fired in the 2009-10 season.

After starting the year with predictions of a playoff berth, the Knicks have descended into the worst season in franchise history, with Jackson shedding much of the talent on the roster to clear space, and Fisher left to take the losses on his record. …

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