LOS ANGELES – Shortly before the Clippers huddled up to begin practice began Friday morning in Playa Vista, Paul George spotted a familiar face and made his way over to embrace Derek Fisher, the L.A. Sparks’ coach and general manager and five-time NBA champion as a member of the Lakers.
“I’ve seen D-Fish around a lot and he’s been around through my earlier years up to this point,” George said Saturday, after the Clippers’ 117-98 victory over Sacramento ensured them at least a .500 season.
George said he and Fisher frequent the same training facility, “so I would see him a lot of times just on my summer workout routines and stuff.”
The Clippers star said he’s eager to absorb information from players like Fisher, who played 18 NBA seasons, including parts of three seasons in Oklahoma City with Reggie Jackson, the popular Clippers guard.
“I am always a person that always wants that learning and teach me,” said George, the seven-time All-Star from Palmdale. “I’ve never closed the door on anyone, whether I agree with their opinion or not. When it comes to the veteran guys, I value their insights, their opinions because they have been there, they have been down that road.
“D-Fish in particular is a champion. He’s won it, he knows what it looks like, he knows what a (championship) team looks like, a locker room looks like. So of course, any story, any convo, I am going to value those moments but I have been fortunate enough to have some really good veterans in my corner to talk to and reach out to.
“It’s a gift, definitely a gift when you can have a relationship with guys that played before you.”
And it seems that Fisher – who is entering his fourth season coaching the WNBA’s Sparks – remains a student as well, said Tyronn Lue, the Clippers’ coach and Fisher’s former Lakers teammate.
“(He) just came to a coach’s meeting, watched our practice, some defensive schemes, some offensive stuff,” Lue said. “Just getting ready for his season and just wanted to pick our brains a little bit, so it was great having him around.”
— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) April 8, 2022
The Agua Caliente Clippers got as far as the G League’s Western Conference championships this season, losing Saturday 125-114 to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers – who got a 27-point, 10-rebound double-double from former L.A. Clipper forward Mfiondu Kabengele.
In keeping with the Clippers’ never-say-die mantra, the Ontario-based team rallied from a 56-38 deficit midway through the second quarter to cut it to 110-104 with 5:13 to play before their rally fizzled.
Nate Darling led Agua Caliente with 29 points and Jordan Ford added 24 points, five rebounds and five assists in the loss.
Brandon Boston Jr. – who averaged 20.7 points in three regular-season games and almost as many in two postseason appearances – had 21 points and six rebounds Saturday.
Xavier Moon, the L.A. Clippers’ recent two-way signee who appeared in 21 G League regular-season contests this season, averaging 18.7 points and 7 assists per game, also played Saturday and finished with seven points and seven assists.
Lue said he appreciated Agua Caliente’s staff for their work preparing players like Boston and Moon while staying competitive with an ever-fluctuating roster.
“Coach (Paul) Hewitt and (assistant) David Adkins did a great job with that team,” Lue said. “The G League is hard because every week there’s a constant flow of guys in and out of the rotation. Brandon and X coming up here, Amir (Coffey has) gone, so to have to plug and play every night? That’s the true definition of it in the G League.
“The job Coach Hewitt has done this year is fantastic and I think getting those guys to play the right way. Also being able to run our system down there a little bit so when they come up they’re not really lost. He’s done a terrific job.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism