Perseverance, Patience, Personality, Passion.
Pick any of those words and it describes the man who has had as a big an impact on athletics at San Diego State, in its long history on Montezuma Mesa, as anyone..
Steve Fisher belongs in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and maybe soon, when he retires, he will get there. But right now he is still ours, and aren’t we lucky.
Think about how hard his job has been.
Coaching offices at one time in trailers. Playing once upon a time in dank and dirty Peterson Gym. Home games at the empty Sports Arena. No quality wins to speak of, an afterthought in a town that didn’t care about the sport. That’s what SDSU was prior to his arrival.
Fast forward to now at San Diego State. Sellouts at Viejas Arena. The Show putting on the show before the real basketball show begins. National rankings, March Madness a permanent fixture on the calendar. Deep runs into the tournament. 4-and-5 star recruits coming here from all over the country.
San Diego State basketball once upon a time gave us a failing Jim Brandenberg, an overmatched Fred Trinkle, and people like Tony Fuller and Jim Harrack-Junior.
And now it’s Steve Fisher.
Think about starting his coaching career, a year removed from the Fab 5-at-Michigan, going (0-14) in the conference and (5-24) overall.
Think about the leap of faith it must have taken, or maybe it was the sales pitch, to get Fresno State transfer Randy Holcombe, to come play for Fisher.
It started with quality JUCO’s, progressed to Division 1-transfers coming back home, to the point now, they get McDonald’s All Americans, and 4-and-5 star players signing here yearly.
Steve Fisher’s prized player is the unsung San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard. But it could be any and all Aztecs of years gone by.
They came, they played, they learned, they graduated, and they got good.
The man’s perseverance was something to behold. His persistence to keep recruiting no matter what the player’s initial decision was continued. His passion for the game, and his classy personality, are what allowed him to become great.
They’ve named the basketball court after him. Tonight is opening night against his Alma Mater Illinois State. There’s a season to be played, another championship to be won, and a tournament to get to, against all the other great programs in the country.
The best program on the West Coast is not UCLA nor Arizona, or anyone else, it’s San Diego State. They may not be blue blood like Kentucky or someone else, but the Red & Black are something very special these days.
He won’t admit to it, but I will say it. This basketball coach not only saved the program, he may have saved the entire Athletic Department. His success brought nationwide recognition to the school The tourney payouts made a difference. The name has become household across the country,
Thanks to that man, who took gruesome and made it into greatness., Steve Fisher is why San Diego State is where they are these days.