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Russell Westbrook says he can learn ‘a lot' from Derek Fisher, ‘especially leadership'
DEREK FISHER — Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook is looking forward to what he can learn from the five-time NBA champion, including "leadership, especially for me; the way he carries himself as a professional."
Every player inside the Thunder locker room can learn something from Derek Fisher, but one new teammate sounds relieved to have some company.
"It’s good to have another adult around here," deadpanned 31-year-old Thunder forward Nick Collison.
Oklahoma City Thunder Derek Fisher defends on Los Angeles Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe (12) during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
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The 37-year-old Fisher last week was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Houston Rockets, was bought out by the Rockets and became an unrestricted free agent after clearing waivers at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Thunder players and coaches had eight NBA championship rings before the arrival of Fisher, who has won five rings by himself.
"That’s a whole handful," rookie point guard Reggie Jackson said. "It’s kind of hard to envision not asking him questions. Hopefully, he’ll just spit out some info to me. None of us has been truly battle-tested like he has."
Fisher has played in seven NBA Finals, is the active leader in playoff games with 209 (one more than former teammate Kobe Bryant) and is fourth on the active list in games played with 1,154.
Fisher quickly explained he signed with OKC to add his talents to a roster and not to disrupt a team with the best record in the Western Conference (35-12).
"I’m not here to take away anything from anyone," Fisher said before making his debut in Wednesday night’s 114-91 victory at home over the Los Angeles Clippers.
It took just one game for Fisher to rearrange the Thunder’s substitution pattern, taking away Jackson’s backup role at the point and bumping workaholic reserve guard Royal Ivey one seat closer toward the end of the bench.
Fisher essentially has inherited the minutes initially backup point guard Eric Maynor played before he suffered a season-ending knee injury Jan. 7.
In the eyes of OKC coach Scott Brooks, Fisher is simply too valuable to leave on the bench. This means keeping the Thunder’s continuity intact with the arrival of a prominent newcomer will be a delicate balance.
"It’s the art of coaching," Brooks explained. "You have to understand that I coach fair and with honesty. I talk to the guys. I’ve always had tough conversations, but I’m not afraid to have them. Obviously people will be affected by him (Fisher) being here, but if you’re about the team, you have to accept that and we have guys who will accept that."
Asked what he thought of Fisher when he played against him, point guard Russell Westbrook said: "You know what you’re going to get. He defends. He makes smart plays. He knocks down open shots."
Of all the players Fisher could impact in the coming months, perhaps Westbrook stands to benefit the most.
A look at Thunder and players who own NBA championship rings. The total nearly doubled Wednesday with the acquisition of guard Derek Fisher.
G Derek Fisher: 5 (Lakers 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
GM Sam Presti: 3 (Spurs 2003, 2005, 2007)
Coach Scott Brooks: 1 (Rockets 1994)
C Kendrick Perkins: 1 (Celtics 2008)
C Nazr Mohammed: 1 (Spurs 2005)
Assistant coach Maurice Cheeks: 1 (Sixers 1983)
Assistant coach Brian Keefe: 1 (Spurs 2007)
Compiled by John Rohde
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