The last time Derek Fisher came to town, he selected and sported his uniform number like a badge of honor.
“Last year, 37 was a reminder to myself and some other folks that at 37 you can still play,” Fisher said. “I didn't want to go to 38 this year even though I'm 38.”
And so he chose jersey No. 6.
It's the same number previously worn by Eric Maynor, whose departure at the trading deadline last week presented Fisher with a chance to rejoin the Thunder. But for Fisher, the number has special meaning.
This time, it's a reminder of what he's chasing, something he came oh so close to capturing last season. The number represents Fisher's pursuit of his sixth NBA championship.
“It symbolizes something for me in terms of (championship) No. 6,” Fisher said following his first practice Tuesday. “But it also symbolizes for me the reason why I'm here, to be a part of this team, and that's to help get (championship) No. 1.”
Fisher added, half-jokingly, that the number also is more of a traditional guard number than the one he would have had to wear to denote his age.
“But for sure,” Fisher said, “it kind of symbolizes and serves as motivation for myself that winning at the end of the day as a team is what this is all about.”
Fisher already is in elite company with five championships. He's one of only 25 players in NBA history to have won at least that many titles. If he adds another to his collection, Fisher would become just the 14th player to have won at least six rings.
Though Bill Russell's 11 championships rank ahead of all others, that number, six, is seen as a gold standard of sorts. It's the number of championships won by Michael Jordan, widely considered the greatest player to ever play the game.
Fisher and his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant are the only two active players with at least five championships.
Does six mean a little more?
“I think for Kobe for sure,” Fisher said. “He's arguably one of the top five, top 10 players to ever play. So I think those guys in that stratosphere, there's certain things that make them feel equal or better than the other. I don't put myself in that conversation. But of course it would symbolize a certain level of accomplishment in the totality of my career.
“It's no question that it means a lot. But that individual desire will never trump the desire to be what I need to be for the group. I would trade in my one to give (the Thunder) one. Six would mean a lot to me, but I don't want six worse than I want to help them get one.”