Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fisher Ready To Face Jazz Fans in Playoff Atmosphere

On May 9th, 2007, after missing Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Golden State Warriors to be with his daughter, Tatum, while she underwent surgery for a rare eye cancer, Derek Fisher returned to EnergySolutions Arena midway through the 3rd quarter of Game Two to a standing ovation from the Jazz faithful.

And in true hero fashion, Fisher forced a key turnover at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime and later knocked down a clutch 3-pointer to seal the win for the home team.

Fast forward six and a half months to November 30th. When after asking to be released from his contract so he could move his family closer to more specialized doctors for his daughter’s care, Fisher made his return to Salt Lake City as a member of the hated Lakers.

This time he was jeered, instead of cheered.

“It caught me off guard,” said Fisher. “I didn’t expect to be cheered or revered as a hero of any kind, but I didn’t necessarily expect that reaction. So it was difficult to adjust to. I really didn’t find myself able to adjust to it that particular night.”

Fisher said that night was rough for him personally and for the team as well. The Jazz thoroughly outplayed the Lakers that night--posting a 120-96 victory.

But when the Lakers returned to Salt Lake City nearly three months later, Fisher said he felt more comfortable because he looked at the situation simply as him having a job to do, and not from a personal standpoint.

The team seemed to respond behind him as the lakers beat utah 106-95 for one of only four losses the Jazz suffered at home during the regular season.

So now the question is-- what will the atmosphere at Energy Solutions be for Game Three?

“It will just be that type of environment where the fans, players, and coaches will all be at a high level emotionally wanting to lay everything out there possible to help each team advance,” said Fisher. “I don’t think things will be out of line or inappropriate in any way. But I do think that myself personally, and my team, can expect a hostile and raucous environment.”

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