Eye on the real prize

Okay, I just love Derek Fisher.  One of the Lakers’ most senior players, he is my favorite not just because he’s great, but because he plays (and lives) with so much heart, so much love—and you can just see it and feel it.

Wherever the series goes (and obviously I hope it goes to the Lakers), playing away in Boston is a tough place to win a game on the road.  Kobe may be the “star,” but he was cold last night and Fisher won that game for his team.

In the post-game interview, standing on the court, Fisher had tears in his eyes as he expressed how much he loves his team and helping his team win.  We all have our heroes, but I can’t relate to Kobe in his often super-human skills and somewhat remote emotional presence; however, Fisher is a person I can look to and say, “I want to be more like him.”

On top of Fisher’s spirit on the court and in the community, the fact that he had a child with cancer and had to face the potentially worst dread that any parent contemplates only further makes him a relatable figure.

I loved the Lakers a few years back.  I loved that Phil Jackson had them doing yoga, and had Shaq reading Herman Hesse and having to do a book report.  But after Fisher left it just wasn’t the same for me.  Jackson is Zen and I really admire him, but Fisher is heart and that is what I’ve come to value above all else with my own maturation.

Watching the Lakers is also a way that I can connect to the group, to my older son, to men in general (at least in Los Angeles)—one normal thing that has come into my life relatively late, in keeping with my generally late blooming path (remembering the kids talking at elementary and middle school after various games, from  da Bulls to da Bears to Blackhawks hockey, and never being at all in the mix).

In a glitzy world of flash, Derek Fisher always strikes me as a down-to-earth mensch.  In an interview shortly after his daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer he was quoted as saying to ESPN, “Trust me, [mothers] just know that something’s not right,” said Fisher. “Us silly men, a lot of times we don’t trust it because we’re different thinkers and we always try to have an explanation. Wives and mothers don’t need an explanation. They just know.”  You can hear the humbleness, and the love and respect for mothers everywhere—a guy you’d be honored to hang out with.

I blog here about Derek Fisher partly because to me he’s a sort of parenting hero—talking about his experiences with health care, with fear, with good fortune—and giving back to the world in many different ways.  To me, the most important way he gives back is in a way we can all give to each other:  by way of a loving positive attitude, by way of authentic concern for our “team” of all our collective children.

Who inspires you?  Who are your heroes—in parenting, in art and creativity and in life in general?

Meanwhile, here’s to making the team the hero, and all doing our best, not to “win,” but to truly and passionately play.

Namaste, Bruce


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8 Responses to “Eye on the real prize”

  1. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    Ahh, this warms the cockles of my basketball-loving, parenting heart. I have not been a Lakers fan since the day Magic, Kareem, and James Worthy hung up their sneakers, but Derek Fisher is indeed one of those sports figures who it is impossible not to like, even when he’s hitting the buzzer-beating three-pointer to defeat my own team. (Not that that’s ever happened to me. Nope. No way.) I have mixed feelings about role model status being thrust upon sports figures, but I wish that Fisher’s commitment to his own family – not to mention his work ethic – were celebrated as widely as where Lebron James chooses to play next season or which Kardashian sister Lamar Odom dates next.

    Thanks for this, Bruce. (You’re on a roll here with highlighting excellent fathering examples from the LA celebrity community. Is this your pre-Father’s Day homage to your town?)

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      I’m smiling at your comment, the unifying power of good sportsmanship (and womanship)… and the “Rashomon” aspects of a three point buzzer-beater that still brings grins to Angelenos.

      I wasn’t consciously thinking Fathers’ Day but if we go for that I wouldn’t want to confine it to any single town—but yes to that Fisher spirit and the good fathering spirit (that women also embody just as men, if worth their full salt, must embody a hint of mothering).

      BTW, loved your post today, I’m looking to follow in your “buffering” footsteps forthwith.

  2. Jack Says:

    Fisher is easy to identify with because he is normal size. You don’t look at him as being some abnormal giant.

    He clearly is talented, but in a league of talented players he looks like a “normal” player. His claim to fame in many ways is an exceptional work ethic and his demeanor.

    Mensch is a good description for him.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      That’s a cool point. I always admired Iverson for being great while less tall than his peers (although not quite my parenting hero), yet Fisher always reads to me as just being right in there, so you’re right in highlighting greatness earned by hard work and heart.

      Go Lakers.

  3. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Peripherally on topic…

    I’m a Celtics fan. Born and bred. What can I say? (With memories of 80s Celtics/Lakers rivalry that was thrilling.)

    As you co-mingle issues of parenting and heroes, along with creativity, I have a tiny tale. When I was actively collecting art, the chase was part of the fun. The research, the global search, the planning and eventual acquisition of something provocative and sensory, a work of art to join a small, eccentric collection. Yours truly, the caretaker.

    I had occasion to find a very early work by Louise Nevelson. Not the geometric sculptures she was so famous for, but a drawing, from the 30s. Elegant. It sang to me.

    While pondering its purchase, I read a biography of Nevelson in which her relatively tepid parenting skills came across. My own sons were very young then. I found that I could not bring myself to purchase the work of art, once I knew what sort of mother she was. It is the only time in my life I’ve been unable to separate the art from the the artist. Something in her mothering so bothered me that it ruined the artwork for me.

    A sort of anti-parenting anti-heroic gesture, my response. And all these years later, I don’t regret that decision to not allow that work to join our family.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Gotta admire the Celtics—they were astounding in the game they won in LA—and seven three pointers in a row for Ray Allen were more than impressive. I really like Garnet too—so I don’t root against the Celtics, just for the Lakers.

      Interesting story on the parenting as it relates to art you want hanging in your home. I was surprised to learn that Michaelangelo had a bit of a reputation for being extremely cruel and prone to excoriating assistants and smashing things up—it was probably knowing that which proved decisive in me not buying any of his pieces 🙂

      I like your story in how you usually are able to separate the art from the artist, but that time you just could not seems to mark an intriguing mix of attraction and repulsion. It sort of makes you curious to see the piece that sang and then got passed over… even makes me wonder if the poetry in her art came from the pain that limited her as a parent.

      Here’s to putting parenting ahead of art while acknowledging that the muses often sing rather sweetly… but then again, sometimes they prove to be sirens.
      All so complex and interesting…

  4. rebecca @ altaredspaces Says:

    I don’t follow basketball, so I can’t leave an intelligent comment about the mores of the game and his contribution.

    I will tell you about a sports hero in my life: my children’s swim team coach. Totally tough. Totally competitive. He taught me how to push my children and have it be okay.

    He never had children of his own, but he loved the kids on his team dearly. He played hard with them, and then, when it was time to work, he WORKED them hard. It made me uncomfortable to watch as he pushed my son to swim the length of the pool in one breath. I was panicked.

    But the pride my children had after push-ups and two-a-day practices was apparent. They still talk about him, years after we’ve moved to a new state. It taught me that sport can help to shape even a mostly geeky kid. Great lesson for a protective mommy.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Great points—sort of like how our bodies need a lot of different foods to get complete nutrition. It also meshes with my sense that all kids are all our collective kids, and we grown-ups (with or with kids of our own directly) can benefit from thinking about what we have that the group needs—and in trusting just how much difference this can make in someone’s life. It can even be as simple as taking a small interest in a neighbor’s child, not condescending and listening to what interests them—coming from a non-parent that can leave a lasting impression and sometimes inspire in way’s that might surprise us as we zip through busy lives.

      Thanks for sharing this.

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