The former NBA head coach and the five-time champion is ready to tackle the WNBA in a role with the Los Angeles Sparks.
Derek Fisher was named the new head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks and the team held its introductory press conference on Friday afternoon.
The announcement of this hiring shocked many when the news of Fisher becoming the Sparks’ new head coach came out on Wednesday. This comes just days after Los Angeles released a statement about Brian Agler’s resignation from the team.
Fisher had a long 18-year career in the NBA which included five championship titles and a short coaching stint in the NBA as head coach of the New York Knicks for the 2014-15 season to midway through the 2015-16 season.
His time with New York did not end on a good note as New York’s record under Fisher was 40-96. The discourse that occurred until the end of his time with the Knicks left many wondering whether or not Fisher would get another coaching job.
With Fisher’s hiring, many questions were raised about his lack of experience with coaching in women’s basketball, the decision process that led to this hire, and the thoughts about a male taking the coaching title in the WNBA.
Many wondered whether due diligence was done during the coaching search that was mentioned in the press release about Agler’s resignation. Just a week following that release, Los Angeles made the announcement about Fisher’s hiring.
Toler, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Sparks, told the media that the coaching search consisted of “a short list. A list of one.” That list of one was Fisher.
As stated in the press release, it was stated that it was going to be a comprehensive search for the next coach, but a week later, the team has a new coach. Granted Agler resigned from his coaching duties at the beginning of November, many thought that a list of qualified people would have been created and calls would be made to potential candidates.
From Agler’s resignation, Toler had her eyes set on bringing Fisher into the fold. Fisher did go through the official process that one would go through before signing on to take on a coaching role.
Many thought it was odd that he was the only choice that Toler saw fit for this role.
It seemed like there wasn’t an actual coaching search as Toler knew that she wanted Fisher as the coach of the Sparks. Based off his time with the Knicks and their losing record under him, Fisher wouldn’t normally be brought on to coach a marquee team in the WNBA.
Many would think that a candidate with a better track record would have been considered to help propel a team like the Sparks into the latter part of the postseason. Someone with more of a pedigree in the women’s basketball world would also normally get consideration for this position, as well.
That was probably the same thought when Bill Laimbeer entered the league as a coach in 2002. Laimbeer learned the ropes over the years to bolster his knowledge and has had success in the league. He currently holds head coaching responsibilities and general manager duties with the Las Vegas Aces.
Fisher may have to go through trial and error to be a successful coach in the WNBA but the fact that he has this opportunity will help him greatly in learning the ropes.
Out of the 12 coaches in the WNBA, just five of them are women that include Cheryl Reeve (MIN), Nicki Collen (ATL), Sandy Brondello (PHO), Pokey Chatman (IND), and Katie Smith (CHI). The league has so many women that come through the coaching ranks who are looking for an opportunity to coach their own team.
With so many women who are in the women’s basketball landscape who have resumes that make them qualified for a head coaching position, many wondered why a woman was not considered for this role.
Toler responded to a question about the consideration of a female coach. Toler said, “I don’t look at coaching as man or woman; I look at who’s the best person for a job; who is going to have the best chemistry with the team.”
One thing is for sure is that with Fisher’s experience as a former championship player, he is able to start building a foundation of relatability with this team. In Fisher being a fan of the team since they’ve been in Los Angeles, he is also familiar with the women’s game and appreciates those who have impacted the game.
It will take time to see how this Sparks team will perform under Fisher’s leadership as this team hopes to continue being in the postseason vying for another championship.
The team is hopeful for what the future is to bring with Fisher as head coach. Despite the noise that is surrounding Fisher, he is ready for an opportunity to coach a group of competitive players.