Among the challenges in Derek Fisher's life these days is finding a balance between making shots and calling them.
The veteran Los Angeles Lakers point guard is also the president of the National Basketball Players Association, a position assuming much greater visibility this year, with the collective bargaining between the union and NBA up for renewal.
The challenge in playing and serving as president, Fisher said, is "in the form of making sure I'm managing my days effectively -- and doing the things I need to do so I'm not overwhelmed in my free time. Because free time is extremely important to balance during the season because the season is so long."
Finding that balance is not stressful, he said. While he does have to focus some time on players' association work, when he's done, "I'm easily able to shut that down and get into work mode and concentrate on playing basketball and helping the team."
Past and present teammates say they're comfortable with having Fisher in charge of the players' group.
"Any time you have someone in office or in power, it helps to know they care," teammate Lamar Odom said. "And Fish fits the bill. I think that we're lucky to have someone like Derek that truly cares about the league and its players."
"He's got a great business mind," said the L.A. Clippers' Brian Cook, a former teammate of Fisher's.
Fisher has long been an effective communicator with teammates and with the media. His ability to calmly express the association's view was illustrated in the preseason when he gently chided Commissioner David Stern's suggestion that contracting teams might be one of the NBA's methods of meeting its financial goals by saying the players would continue to do their negotiating behind closed doors.
The Clippers' Jarron Collins, a longtime player representative with the Utah Jazz, agreed that Fisher is well equipped to handle the job.
"As he should be," Collins said, "because more people are going to look to him and, quite frankly, I think that's the way it should be. The people speaking about the collective bargaining issues, our president or vice president, (are) probably the most well informed about the situations and the various scenarios that could play out."
Of course, Fisher is also communicating within the players' association. In the Lakers' locker room, Odom said, he tells teammates "the inside scoop on what's going on, how to handle it, and what we should do."
And on a fairly regular basis, players on other teams ask Fisher for information, too.
"Not during a game," he said, "but definitely before, maybe halftime if we're crossing paths, and then after. There's definitely guys that are curious and tuned into what's going on."
Fisher has mixed feelings about being in the midst of the negotiating process.
"I think it's a necessary evil. I find it intriguing. I find it rewarding in a sense, and humbling at the same time, to be in a position where my opinions and beliefs, and the beliefs of my teammates and players, are working together to do something that's not just good for the guys now, but for the game going forward.
"That part I enjoy a great deal."
While the two sides seem far apart now, Fisher remains optimistic there will be an agreement.
"I am," he said. "Always."