Fisher played college basketball for the Arkansas–Little Rock Trojans, and he was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in 1996. He was selected by the Lakers with the 24th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. He spent his first eight seasons with the franchise, and he won three consecutive league championships (2000–2002) with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. Fisher signed as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors. He was later traded to the Utah Jazz, whom he helped lead to the Western Conference finals. Due to his daughter's health, he asked to be released from his contract in 2007. He rejoined the Lakers and won two more NBA titles. The Lakers in 2012 traded Fisher to the Houston Rockets, who bought out his contract and waived him. He subsequently played with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks before joining the Thunder again.
As of 2013, Fisher had played in 240 career playoff games, the second highest total in NBA history. While playing for the Lakers, he hit a buzzer beater with 0.4 seconds left in game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs, which the NBA lists as the 18th-greatest playoff moment of all time.
Early lifeFisher was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. He attended Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School in Little Rock, where he was a letterman in basketball.
He went on to attend the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) for four years, with a major in communications. Fisher concluded his collegiate career at Arkansas-Little Rock second on the school’s all-time lists in points (1,393), assists (472) and steals (189). He averaged 12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists over 112 games and led the team in assists and steals every year. Fisher also set a school record for free throws made in a career (399) and ranked third among all-time UALR leaders in three-point field goals made (125). As a senior, he earned Sunbelt Conference Player of the Year honors after averaging 14.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.
In 2005, Fisher pledged $700,000 to UALR towards the construction of its Jack Stephens Center auxiliary gym, since named in his honor, and the establishment of the Fisher Fellows Life Skills program, a mentoring series for UALR student-athletes.
Los Angeles Lakers (1996–2004)Fisher was selected 24th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, and spent his first eight seasons with them.
He made his NBA debut in an early season game against the Phoenix Suns, tallying 12 points and five assists. Over the course of his rookie season, Fisher appeared in 80 games, averaging 3.9 points, 1.5 assists and 1.2 rebounds. He was selected to the Schick Rookie Game during the All-Star Weekend in Cleveland and had 16 points and six assists.
Due to a stress fracture in his right foot, Fisher missed 62 games out of the 2000–01 season. By 2002–03, Fisher had firmly established himself as the Lakers' primary point guard, starting in all 82 games. But after the team was eliminated in the Western Conference Semifinals by the eventual champion Spurs that spring, followed by the signing of veteran point guard Gary Payton in the summer, Fisher was demoted back to the bench for the 2003–04 season.
The 0.4 shotOne of Fisher's finest playoff moments came in Game 5 (May 13, 2004) of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals between the Lakers and the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. The series was tied at 2, and Game 5 was a closely contested affair. With 11 seconds remaining, Kobe Bryant hit a jump shot to put the Lakers up 72–71. Tim Duncan then made a fadeaway 18-footer over Shaquille O'Neal to give the Spurs a 73–72 lead with 0.4 seconds on the clock.
To devise strategies, three consecutive time-outs were called: the first by the Lakers, the second by San Antonio to set up the defense, and the last by the Lakers to re-set up the offense. When the game resumed, Gary Payton inbounded the ball to Fisher, who managed to catch, turn, and shoot the game-winning basket all in 0.4 seconds. Fisher sprinted off the court, as he later admitted he was uncertain he beat the buzzer and wanted to exit before the play could be reviewed. The Spurs immediately filed a dispute regarding the shot and after reviewing video footage of the play, the referees concluded that the ball indeed left Fisher's hands before the clock expired. The "0.4" shot counted and the Lakers won the game 74–73.
The Lakers closed out the Spurs in Game 6. They proceeded to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves to clinch the Western Conference championship, but were upset in the NBA Finals by the Detroit Pistons 4 games to 1.
Golden State Warriors (2004–2006)On July 16, 2004, Fisher signed with the Golden State Warriors as a free agent. Fisher's two-season term with Golden State proved to be somewhat of a disappointment. While he was a reliable spot-up shooter, Fisher saw limited openings without a star player such as Bryant or O'Neal to command a double-team. The team as a whole continued to struggle mightily and languished near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Speedy Claxton started more games than Fisher in 2004–05 season, and then newly-acquired point guard Baron Davis was a starter the following season. In the 2005–06 season, Fisher averaged 13.3 points a game, the highest season scoring average of his career.
Utah Jazz (2006–2007)Fisher was acquired by the Utah Jazz on July 12, 2006 in a trade that sent Keith McLeod, Andre Owens, and Devin Brown to the Golden State Warriors. He appeared in all 82 games of the 2006–07 season, averaging 10.1 points, 3.3 assists, and 1.01 steals while scoring in double figures 40 times.
In November 2006, Fisher was voted President of the National Basketball Players Association, succeeding Antonio Davis. Fisher had previously served as vice president. He has also been the color commentator for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA since July 1, 2008.
2007 PlayoffsSeveral days before the Western Conference Semifinals between the Jazz and the Golden State Warriors began, Fisher stated that one of his four children was ill, avoiding going into further detail other than to say he needed to be with his family and his playing status was uncertain.
Fisher had asked head coach Jerry Sloan to leave him on the active list for Game 2, but could not guarantee he would make it in time to play. But with permission from their doctors, he and his family flew from New York after his daughter's surgery and landed in Salt Lake City with the game in progress. When they landed, Fisher found out starting point guard Deron Williams was in foul trouble and his backup Dee Brown had been injured. The Jazz had been using Andrei Kirilenko as a point guard and desperately needed Fisher. Given a police escort, Fisher arrived at the arena, suited up, and was given a standing ovation as he walked onto the floor. Not even given a chance to sit down, Fisher was put in the game in the middle of the third quarter. Late in the fourth, Fisher made a key defensive stop on Baron Davis that helped send the game into overtime. In the closing minutes, the Jazz held a three-point lead when Deron Williams found an open Fisher for a three-pointer that sealed the victory. After the game, a tearful Fisher was interviewed, where he revealed the situation involving his then-11-month-old daughter, Tatum. She had been diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a degenerative and rare form of eye cancer, which required an emergency three-hour surgery and chemotherapy at a New York hospital.
The Jazz eventually defeated the Warriors 4 games to 1, but fell to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals in five games. Fisher's dramatic Game 2 entrance and performance against the Warriors was nominated for Best Moment in the 2007 ESPY Awards.
On July 2, 2007, Fisher asked the Jazz to release him from his contract so he could relocate to a team and city that would have the "right combination" of specialists that could help fight his daughter's retinoblastoma. The Jazz honored his request.