Kendrick Perkins and Derek Fisher seem to be polar opposites.
One short, one tall. One a Laker icon, the other a Celtic cornerstone. One a southpaw, the other a righty. One a clutch shooter, the other a defender of the paint. One a statesman to many, the other a caveman to many.
But Perkins and Fisher are more alike than different. They are NBA royalty, and now they are Thunder teammates. Those traits are not coincidence.
Last NBA trade deadline, the Thunder added Perk from the Celtics. This NBA trade deadline, the Thunder added Fish from the Lakers.
A franchise on the fast track to an NBA championship is ready to speed up the process even more. The Thunder's primary void is playoff calluses. The experience that comes only from grinders in the month of May.
But adding Perkins, with his scowl and 2008 NBA title, and Fisher, with his regal air and five championship rings, warp-speeds the growth process.
“That experience, the way they carry themselves,” said Thunder center Nazr Mohammed, “they understand what hard work is needed to win a championship.”
Sure, the Thunder needed a little help at backup point guard. Rookie Reggie Jackson has been OK, but Scotty Brooks really didn't want to hand the reins to Jackson at the start of the fourth quarter in a playoff Game 6.
But what Fisher brings most to the Thunder is a sense of calmness. A sense of security.
In the locker room, with the B team when Russell Westbrook takes a well-deserved rest, on the tarmac walking to the team plane, checking into a hotel, in the sideline huddle down two points with 40 seconds left to play in a game the Thunder just has to have. These Baby Boomers now can look at Old Man Fisher and think, hey, everything's going to be OK.
“He's a winner,” Brooks said. “He's all about winning. That's all he's known. That's all he's about. He's about putting his team in position to win. And he's done it on the biggest stage.”
Brooks is quick to say that Fisher was brought in for much more than mascot status. He's no grandpa, sitting in an easy chair in front of his locker, telling war stories.
Brooks says Fisher remains a quality ballplayer, which apparently would be news to the Laker brass, which traded him to Houston for out-of-the-rotation Jordan Hill, and the Rockets, who quickly granted Fisher his freedom.
“He's still a good player in this league,” said Brooks, who talked most about Fisher's defense, which to us outsiders looks suspect.
Of course, we've studied Fisher most when Westbrook is blowing by him for a layin.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.