Derek Fisher's championship experience is worth its weight in gold to Thunder

Fisher will be needed on the court to give Russell Westbrook a well-deserved rest. But Fisher can help guide a young Thunder squad through the NBA playoffs' tough grind.
by Berry Tramel Published: March 22, 2012

“Derek understands defense,” Brooks said. “He understands it has to be played with toughness. Defensively, he's as tough as they come … loves to fight through screens.”

Fisher will return the Thunder to the days when Eric Maynor gave OKC a curveball to Westbrook's hard heat. A more set-up, line-up, run-a-play point guard.

“They play a different pace of game,” Mohammed said, comparing Westbrook and Fisher. “More methodical. People are going to have to adjust to what we're doing.”

So there's 8-10 minutes a game for Fisher. But in the fourth quarter Wednesday against the Clippers, Brooks used Fisher with the big boys – Kevin Durant, Westbrook, James Harden.

I prefer Thabo Sefolosha for that small-ball lineup, and Daequan Cook's marksmanship is handy, too. But keep an eye on Fisher for that role.

Either way, though, let's be clear. If a 37-year-old, 16-season veteran with the exact skill set and character of Fisher had spent most of his career with the Warriors, no way would he have been signed by the Thunder.

Sam Presti brought in Fisher because those 13 Laker seasons schooled him in the ways of winning.

“That's what makes Derek Fisher who he is,” Brooks said. “All the success he's had. If he didn't have that, who knows? That's who he is. He's always been a player that understands the game.”

In the NBA, guys who have won it all receive special status. Guys who have won it all five times, making big shots and keeping Andrew Bynum halfway settled and juggling détente between Kobe and Shaq, well, those guys, this guy, are royalty.

“Championships always give you credibility,” said Mohammed, who has one himself, with the Spurs in 2005. “The fact that they played with great players gives them extra credibility. ‘Hey, you shouldn't do it that way, do it this way.'”

When Derek Fisher talks, players listen. In many ways, Perkins arrived in February 2011 and immediately became a team leader on this fledgling team. Now Fisher joins him, and suddenly these young Thunder stars walk into any playoff situation knowing they have teammates who have been there before.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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