Things have changed for Derek Fisher

Derek Fisher suffering through a tough first season as coach of the Knicks

Derek Fisher returned to Staples Center without mentioning the tense-to-the-end 2010 NBA Finals against Boston that led to a jubilant, if not relieved, parade down Figueroa Street.

Nor did he detail the clinching victory here over Indiana in 2000, the first of five championships he won as a Lakers player.

Times have changed, franchises have struggled.

Have they ever.

But Fisher acknowledged it was "almost re-energizing" to return to Los Angeles during a ragged first season as the New York Knicks coach.

"The memories of the people, the city. What we enjoyed and experienced, you can't replace," Fisher said Thursday before the Knicks played the Lakers. "I'm not really trying to re-create that, per se, but I believe that our coaches and I and Phil [Jackson], we have an understanding of how to get to this point where the organization can hang those banners up top."

Jackson, the Knicks' president, took the bold step of hiring Fisher after his first choice, Steve Kerr, instead took the Golden State job. In NBA parlance, that's known as a wise move by Kerr.

No way could it have been predicted like this, but the Warriors have shot to the top of the Western Conference while the Knicks have dropped to the bottom of the NBA, skidding toward their worst season ever. It will become official soon enough when they lose their 60th game.

The Knicks are a lot like the Lakers, complete with an injured superstar, a likely top-five draft pick and money to burn this summer in free agency.

They also have an understanding fan base. Right.

"I think the New York fans are just like our fans. They say they're going to be patient but they're really not," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said. "They have to be patient. Phil's going to be very patient with Derek. He knows the type of person that Derek is. It just doesn't happen overnight."

Scott remembered his first season as a head coach. He was close to New York geographically but eons away in basketball tradition, trying to guide the New Jersey Nets after years as an assistant coach, a luxury Fisher could not claim. He eventually led the Nets to back-to-back Finals, losing to the Lakers and San Antonio.

A year ago, Fisher scored five points for Oklahoma City against the Lakers. It was his 18th season as an NBA player. A few months later, he became coach of the Knicks for a reported $25 million over five years.

"He's in a tough situation. He's in a tough city," Scott said. "But Fish is a tough cat. I think he's going to be very successful as a coach."

For one night, Fisher was back in a familiar place. He might not have recognized many faces on the Lakers. It didn't matter.

The banners on the wall were comforting. They even served as inspiration for his newer quest.

"Being back here is almost re-energizing," Fisher said. "It reinvigorates the thought process of how we need to keep going to get to the point that we want to get to."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: Mike_Bresnahan

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