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A nearly two-month long journey came to a conclusion for the New York Knicks on Tuesday. Derek Fisher was officially announced as the next head coach of the franchise.
This hiring marks the end of a search process that began on April 21 when team president Phil Jackson fired head coach Mike Woodson and the entire coaching staff after a 37-45 season. Jackson then set his eyes on Steve Kerr, who opted for the Golden State Warriors instead of reuniting with his former coach.
Fisher, 39, was still playing in the NBA as recently as 11 days ago, as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He will be leaving playing to step right into a head coaching gig, which is a jump that does not worry him at all.
"Basketball is a game that I am experienced in playing, understanding, leading in, guiding in, helping another group of people achieve the greatest gift in the world as a professional athlete, and that's being a champion,” Fisher said in his introductory press conference, reports ESPN New York. "That I have experience in, and that's the experience that I plan on sharing with these players, sharing with this organization."
Fisher is not the only point guard to retire from playing and immediately become a head coach in New York. Last year, Jason Kidd hung up his sneakers and took over at the helm of the Brooklyn Nets. He led the Nets to a 44-38 record and to the second round of the playoffs.
Fisher, in addition to playing 18 years in the NBA, served as the player’s union president. He demonstrated his ability to lead during the 2011 NBA Lockout, where he took part in the negotiations with the owners, according to NBA.com.
Fisher, who won five NBA Championships with Jackson and the Los Angeles Lakers, played in the most playoff games in NBA history (259) and was a part of the most playoff wins in history (161). He went to the NBA Finals eight times.
Fisher’s contract is worth $25 million over five years.
Besides putting together a coaching staff, one of his first major tasks as head coach will be to convince small forward Carmelo Anthony to return to New York. Anthony will be a free agent on July 1.