Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and Miami Heat forward Shane Battier both had positive things to say about Derek Fisher’s prospects as an NBA head coach before Game 3 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night (Newsday, June 10).
“I think he’s got a great opportunity to have a really good career,” Popovich said. “He’s crazy to do it. Coaching in this league is crazy. He obviously wants to do it and he’s got a mentor in Phil [Jackson] that’s going to help him be successful, help set the stage for him, give him a comfort zone.”
Battier compared Fisher to Jason Kidd and Steve Kerr among players “you just know” are going to be head coaches someday.
“Five years at $25 million will make anyone think differently about their future choices,” Battier said of his plans following his retirement after this season. “Everyone knew that D-Fish was going to be a coach. You could tell that Steve Kerr was itching to get back into the game from the booth. There are certain guys, you just know, are going to find their way to a bench someday.”
Popovich knows all too well what sort of talent Fisher is bringing to the table.
“He’s obviously a very intelligent individual who understands the game, knows how to play, knows what it takes to win and lose. There’s no reason why he can’t be really successful,” Popovich said of the player whose turnaround, buzzer-beating game-winner for the Lakers nabbed the 2004 Western Conference semifinals from the Spurs.
But Battier, who has played against Fisher for a number of years, said it takes a certain kind of player to become a coach – and not everyone can do it.
“Coaching is so much more than just knowing the game,” Battier said. “If that were the case, a lot more people who played the game would be successful as coaches. There have been a lot of coaches who know the game and played the game at a high level but it just doesn’t translate to coaching.
As far as Battier is concerned, however, Fisher is the type of player who can coach.
“Coaching is dealing with personalities. It’s dealing with schematic changes. There is so much that goes into coaching. Not just having a feel for the game. But I think D-Fish will do well. Just like I think Jason Kidd will do well. And Steve Kerr will do well. But there is no way you can look at a guy and say, for sure, that guy has it all figured it out.”