LOS ANGELES — It was a "short but sweet" search to find the new coach of the Los Angeles Sparks. Turns out he has been sitting in the courtside seats for years.
Derek Fisher was introduced Friday as coach of the team that he watched play at Staples Center while helping the Lakers win five NBA championships as their point guard. It's Fisher's second stint as a head coach in the pro ranks. He was fired from the New York Knicks in 2016.
"This opportunity is not a step down, sideways, backwards, somehow different than the men's game," Fisher told a room full of media at a downtown hotel, insisting the WNBA isn't a steppingstone. "There isn't a future outside of what we're here to talk about today."
Executive vice president and general manager Penny Toler didn't look far in finding a replacement for Brian Agler, who resigned last week.
"Our coach's search was short but sweet," she 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 one. He would leave his practice and fly and watch us play."
Toler said that during her 20 years as GM she would discuss the team with Fisher and seek his advice and suggestions.
"He's invested," she said.
Fisher becomes the 12th coach in franchise history. He takes over a team that went 19-15 in the regular season this year before losing in the second round of the playoffs.
Agler resigned without explanation after four years that included winning the WNBA championship in 2016. He had an 85-51 career mark with the Sparks.
"I don't know why he wanted to. I didn't ask," Toler said. "When someone wants to resign, it's not my job to talk them out of it."
Former league MVP Candace Parker was on hand to welcome Fisher. She waved her right hand in the air, showing off her WNBA championship ring that made a clunking noise when her hand hit the table.
"I want more," she said.