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

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.

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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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