Fisher’s preference remains to re-sign with the Lakers, but he felt the need to explore his options and listened to Riley’s pitch as Los Angeles general manager Mitch Kupchak continues to work on an offer that is to the liking of the five-time NBA Champion.
Prior to his meeting with Riley and Heat owner Mickey Arison though, Fisher received a warm welcome at the airport from a team representative that could heavily influence his decision to relocate from Hollywood, California to ‘Hollywood East’.
It was a short meeting as James was at the airport to board a flight to New York to attend the wedding of Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony, but James clearly went out of his way to wait for Fisher to arrive and meet with him for a few minutes.
Guess Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh weren’t available, huh?
In any case, Fisher reportedly received a $2.5 million offer for next season from Los Angeles. Miami could likely offer Fisher up to $4.5 million, based on its available cap space even after signing James, Bosh and Wade.
Kobe Bryant, a 1996 NBA Draft classmate, has publicly stated, in no uncertain terms, that the Lakers need to re-sign Fisher, who is a locker room leader and an emotional metronome for the passionate two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP.
“We need to have him back, it’s as simple as that,” Bryant told ESPNLA.com’s Dave McMenamin at his Kobe Bryant Skills Academy on the UC Santa Barbara campus. “It’s not a question of if he will be back; it’s a matter of when.
“I don’t care what [the cost] is. … They need to work that out and get him back because his significance to our ballclub and to me cannot be understated.”
All signs point to Fisher re-signing with the team where he has won every single one of his championship rings; however, there is no question that Pat Riley will pull out all the stops to acquire a player who will provide stability and tremendous veteran leadership to the most hyped collection of talent in league history.
So the rivalry has begun without a single second of basketball played; with Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on one side and Pat Riley & ‘Miami Thrice’ on the other, ‘Hollywood West’ versus ‘Hollywood East’.
Derek Fisher is the ultimate prize this time around. Will the NBA Championship be soon to follow?
Click here to read more about 2010 NBA free agency on Examiner.com.