‘Short but sweet’ search lands Fisher as Sparks head coach

The Day - - SUMMARY - By BETH HARRIS AP Sports Writer

Los An­ge­les — It was a "short but sweet" search to find the new coach of the Los An­ge­les Sparks. Turns out he has been sit­ting in the court­side seats for years.

Derek Fisher was in­tro­duced Fri­day as coach of the team that he watched play at Sta­ples Cen­ter while help­ing the Lak­ers win five NBA cham­pi­onships as their point guard. It's Fisher's sec­ond stint as a head coach in the pro ranks. He was fired from the New York Knicks in 2016.

"This op­por­tu­nity is not a step down, side­ways, back­wards, some­how dif­fer­ent than the men's game," Fisher told a room full of me­dia at a down­town ho­tel, in­sist­ing the WNBA isn't a step­ping­stone. "There isn't a fu­ture out­side of what we're here to talk about to­day."

Ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager Penny Toler didn't look far in finding a re­place­ment for Brian Agler, who re­signed last week.

"Our coach's search was short but sweet," she said. "The first per­son who came to mind was Derek Fisher. Derek has been a huge sup­porter of the Sparks, but even more im­por­tantly, he's been a huge sup­porter of the WNBA from day one. He would leave his prac­tice and fly and watch us play."

Toler said that dur­ing her 20 years as GM she would dis­cuss the team with Fisher and seek his ad­vice and sug­ges­tions. "He's in­vested," she said. Fisher be­comes the 12th coach in fran­chise his­tory. He takes over a team that went 19-15 in the reg­u­lar sea­son this year be­fore los­ing in the sec­ond round of the play­offs.

Agler re­signed with­out ex­pla­na­tion af­ter four years that in­cluded win­ning the WNBA cham­pi­onship in 2016. He had an 85-51 ca­reer mark with the Sparks.

"I don't know why he wanted to. I didn't ask," Toler said. "When some­one wants to re­sign, it's not my job to talk them out of it."

For­mer league MVP Can­dace Parker was on hand to wel­come Fisher. She waved her right hand in the air, show­ing off her WNBA cham­pi­onship ring that made a clunk­ing noise when her hand hit the ta­ble. "I want more," she said. Be­sides Parker, the Sparks have an­other for­mer league MVP in Nneka Og­wu­mike and hope to re-sign guard Chelsea Gray. "We have chem­istry," Parker said. Parker noted she first met Fisher when she was 8 or 9 and her older brother's agent was based in Arkansas, where Fisher is from.

Fisher was fired in New York af­ter go­ing 40-96 in 1 ½ sea­sons while work­ing un­der then-Knicks ex­ec­u­tive Phil Jack­son, who coached him on the Lak­ers.

Fisher said it took a while for him to come to terms with the fact that he was "overly fix­ated with what other peo­ple thought about my ex­pe­ri­ence in New York as op­posed to what I felt about my ex­pe­ri­ence in New York."

Fisher pep­pered Toler with what she said were "about 2,000 ques­tions" be­fore agree­ing to take the Sparks job. He in­di­cated the home­work was nec­es­sary af­ter his time with the Knicks.

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