Even though many things have already been said about the news that Derek Fisher is leaving the Utah Jazz so he can be with his family, I wanted to chime in. Seeing as how I've blasted Fisher in this space for his play (although the blast was aimed at Jerry Sloan more than Fisher), it's only fair to praise him as well.
There are those who believe that athletes should not be considered role models. While I agree with this sentiment, it is an unavoidable fact that people (especially kids) look up to athletes and want to be like them. That is the way our society works, and until they decide to stop showing sports on TV, it will always be that way. As a parent, it's always good to see athletes who are clearly good people and who have the same values I'd like my family to have.
It's easy to look at the millions of dollars Fisher has already made and say it must be easy to give up $21 million when you've already got millions in the bank. But anyone who says that has probably never been offered $21 million. I obviously don't know what that is like. But I know the feeling of wanting to have enough money to make sure your kids are taken care of the best way possible. And I'm sure that $21 million would have come in handy for the expensive procedures that the Fishers' daughter will be going through.
But you can't help but respect a man who clearly identifies where his priorities are. Not that it matters to him, but Derek Fisher has gained a fan for life. I will root for him wherever he ends up, and will be praying that everything works out for him and his family. And kudos to the Jazz for letting him opt out of his contract. They could have easily insisted on getting something out of this. Restructuring Fisher's contract to expire after this year could have created an attractive asset in faciliating some sort of trade this summer. But we must also give respect to Larry H. Miller, owner of the Jazz. Some people don't agree with the way he runs his businesses, but for all his faults, Miller has a few values that he always sticks to, and family is one of them.
All the best to the Fisher family.
As for the basketball ramifications of this, it actually turns out fantastic for the Jazz. For all his leadership and other veteran qualities, Fisher wasn't producing well on the floor. This now clears up some of the logjam at two guard, and allows much more time for the young players, which Sloan refused to play as long as Fisher was available. Ronnie Brewer has showed productivity in limited time, Gordan Giricek is not a terrible option, and newly drafted Morris Almond had one of the highest approximated WP48 of any two guard in the draft. Plus, this clears cap space for the Jazz to re-sign Deron Williams. Should be interesting to see how the Jazz play this year, if they can keep things rolling from their Conference Finals appearance.
Until then, Derek, we'll be thinking about you.
(Points + Rebounds + Steals + ½Assists + ½Blocked Shots – Field Goal Attempts – Turnovers - ½Free Throw Attempts - ½Personal Fouls) / Minutes = Win Score per Minute