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Derek Fisher Interview

by Darnell Mayberry Published: March 21, 2012

For your reading pleasure, here is a transcribed version of Derek Fisher’s introductory press conference. Stay with NewsOK.com for continuing coverage of Fisher’s signing and tonight’s Thunder-Clippers game.

ON THE LAST 48 HOURS
I’ll refrain from boring you with the circumstances and the details. But this situation here in Oklahoma City and with the Thunder team is just one that is special already. And the circumstances that kind of surround me being available to come here are rare, but also what’s rare is what’s going on here with this team and these players and these coaches and the front office. Considering I had the opportunity to basically choose the best situation and the right fit, there was no doubt, after speaking with several teams, that this was the best place and the best fit.

ON WHAT HE LIKES ABOUT THE THUNDER
The team itself, which I’ve always had a lot of respect for, plays hard and plays with energy every night. And even with a relatively young basketball team, they’re only focused on one thing and that’s winning and being successful. Having gotten the opportunity to speak with Sam Presti and some of the other members of the staff, it’s very clear that there’s one common goal here and that’s to maximize the abilities of every player on the team to try to bring, at some point, a championship to Oklahoma City. And so it was very difficult to not see myself as a person that could come in and help add to a situation that’s already special.

ON HOW HE FEELS HE CAN MAKE AN IMPACT
In a number of ways. As a leader, which can happen from the bench, can happen from the locker room; but I’m a basketball player so it can also happen on the court. So I’m just looking to be as helpful as I possibly can to every player on this team. I’m not here to take anything away from anyone. I’m here to only add and support and assist in what I feel like is a great process that’s already been established here with this team.

ON THE TRADE FROM THE LAKERS
I was surprised by it. But since then, I’ve very much realized that it’s not so much about what went wrong and why it happened, but more so where I’m going next and the next chapter of my life. At the right time I’ll be able to make statements and say things related to the Lakers and my teammates and guys that I used to play with. But right now, for me, I’m excited about this team and the potential that they have and what it is that I can bring to something that’s already doing pretty good. They’re right now sitting on top of the Western Conference. I’m just hopeful that the things that I do, the things that I’ve always brought to every team that I’ve every played on, could be the right mix to help these guys continue to do what it is that they’re already doing.

ON GETTING TO KNOW THUNDER PLAYERS AND FINDING HIS ROLE
That’s really the most special part of being a professional athlete, the relationships you develop with your teammates. You develop lifelong bonds and friendships. It won’t be as easy as normal when you have a training camp and you have time to get to know your teammates. But one thing I’ve observed from a distance is these guys on this team in this locker room appear to have a tremendous amount of respect for each other. I played against Scott (Brooks) but also know him a little bit as a coach. He’s a straight shooter and a guy that treats people with respect. And so I don’t think it’ll be a problem transitioning into the locker room. My willingness is there, and I think this team is about winning and their willingness will be there and we’ll just try to work together the best we can to be the best team we can possibly be.

ON MENTORING THE THUNDER’S YOUNGER POINT GUARDS
Every team that I’ve been on, I’ve always felt like from a leadership standpoint my role is to help everyone. Obviously playing the point guard position, those are the guys I connect with the most. So whether it’s Russell or Royal or Reggie or whoever it is, I’m here to help assist. I’m not here to try to tell someone how to play. These guys are pretty good without me. But I’m just here to offer nuggets of wisdom, advice, my experience and the things that I’ve been through. But also when coach Brooks decides that it’s the right time for me to get on the floor and play minutes, I have to be effective and I can play good minutes. So I plan to help in any way that I possible can.

ON HIS IMPRESSIONS OF RUSSELL WESTBROOK
Just unbelievably talented. The level of improvement from year to year, and what he’s been able to do to lead this team to the top of the Western Conference says a lot about his abilities. It’s never easy playing against him. Now, hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to practice against him every day. But being on the same team when the game starts, that’ll be a lot better for me. Hopefully it’s a lot better for him because we definitely need to be able to work together to lead this team. But this is going to be a group effort. It won’t just be my job, or Russell’s job, or Kevin’s job. It’ll be every guy on that team really doing the best we can to maximize what we are.

ON WHAT MADE HIM CHOOSE THE THUNDER
After getting permission from the Rockets to speak with teams about the possibility of moving on once we were able to complete the buyout, and speaking with several teams, there were specific things that I was looking for that would be the right fit for who I am and the right community and the right organization and the right players, the right coaches. And everything that I had observed from this particular team fit right into what I felt like was what I wanted to be attached to, what I wanted to be a part of. Being a part of success and winning, it’s not easy to let go. And so when you see an opportunity to be a part of something that is special and feel as though you can add to it, that was really what was the deciding factor in terms of me coming here. The coaching staff, the players, and getting a chance to talk to Sam Presti and other members of management, Troy Weaver, who I worked with in Utah for a year, these are just great, quality people beyond the basketball. And that’s something I wanted to be a part of. And I’m just very fortunate to have had this opportunity and I’m looking forward to getting the most from it.

ON HIS CONSECUTIVE GAMES STREAK
In my mind it’s alive. But I’m sure in the NBA record books it’s probably gone. But as far as I’m concerned, I was always and am, and even tonight, physically able to play. I have not (missed a game while under contract). If coach decides that there are some minutes available at some point, hopefully the streak can continue.

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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