Derek Fisher says coaching WNBA’s Sparks isn’t a step down

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Fisher previously coached the Knicks, but was fired in 2016 midway through his second season.

Derek Fisher said his move to the WNBA is “not a step down” while he was introduced as the Los Angeles Sparks head coach Friday,

“This opportunity is not a step down, sideways, backwards, somehow different than the men’s game,” Fisher told reporters (via the Associated Press). “There isn’t a future outside of what we’re here to talk about today.”

Fisher previously coached the Knicks, but was fired in 2016 midway through his second season after the team posted a 23-31 record. He is replacing Brian Agler, who resigned last week after four seasons with the Sparks.

“Our coach’s search was short but sweet,” executive vice president and general manager Penny Toler 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 1. He would leave his practice and fly and watch us play.”

Toler explained Fisher asked “about 2,000 questions” before accepting the job. Fisher indicated it was necessary after his time with the Knicks, the AP notes.

“What I learned is, if there is not clarity in purpose, vision and mission from ownership to management to coaches to players to staff, it doesn’t work,” Fisher said. “Some of the basketball things are irrelevant if ownership, management, staff, players, if we are not aligned in the way we see going about our jobs and achieving our purpose and our mission.”

The Sparks are coming off a 19-15 season with Agler at the helm. They lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Washington Mystics.