November 08, 2011
The reaction will be swift, obvious and telling, despite its predictability. You can't feel sorry for millionaires. You can't feel sorry for someone who has made nearly $58 million dollars over his NBA career just because he's missed out on the first month of salary on his 2011-12 contract worth $3.4 million. If Players Association president Derek Fisher(notes) wants to work pro bono on the players' behalf during this NBA lockout, then this is his call.
We can all at least attempt to show some respect for what the guy has gone through, though, correct?
Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register came through with a fantastic profile on Fisher, and how harried his life has been as he attempts to herd the NBA's 400-plus cats (and their 40,000-plus interests, agent-based or otherwise) through these lockout negotiations. In the profile he paints Derek as a studious type who traveled for half a decade prior to the 2011 labor negotiations to help him grow into the "first non-figurehead president the NBA players have ever had."
Ding goes on, in this must-read column:
He is not getting paid anything for this. He digs into his own pocket even for meals while holed up in New York for bargaining meetings — sometimes packing for what was supposed to be a couple days and then having to agree to stay for a week or a week and a half. He pays for personal assistants to fly and stay and help him in New York, including a trainer to keep him on track physically to continue his old job as a basketball player at some point.
He tries to justify the expenses to his wife, in addition to his glaring absence at home at the usual offseason time when he gets to reconnect with his kids. Staying committed to serve his fellow players at this critical time, Fisher is left to steal away from New York and back to Los Angeles just to see his kid's soccer game and then jet back on a red-eye flight.
Again, this is the role Fisher willingly signed up for. And despite his below-average NBA salary, he can certainly afford the lifestyle, even if the NBA has canceled his first month's pay.
The role is the absolute definition of "thankless," though, even if union executive director Billy Hunter and NBA commissioner David Stern publicly acknowledge Fisher's role in labor negotiations following the conclusion of the lockout, whenever that is. Fisher has made just about nobody happy as he works to try to represent the players he's charged with leading while acknowledging the NBA's concerns and considerable leverage.
That probably means he's doing something right. At least someone is.