OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher isn't planning on his latest stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder being his last chance to play in the league. He has just one goal in mind and he'll wear a reminder of it on his jersey in every game.
Fisher chose No. 6 to wear on his uniform, to represent his quest for a sixth NBA title. He won five alongside Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers and for the second straight season will join the Thunder for the stretch run to try and help Kevin Durant win his first.
"It symbolizes something for me in terms of No. 6 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 No. 1," Fisher said Tuesday after his first practice.
Fisher wore No. 37 last season to reflect his age and deliver a message that he could still play after getting traded away by the Lakers. He wasn't offered the chance to return to Oklahoma City during the offseason, but he was signed Monday as a free agent after the Thunder traded away third-string point guard Eric Maynor.
Fisher played in nine games earlier this season with Dallas, but asked for his release to spend more time with his family after he had injured his right knee.
"I knew that I still wanted to play the game. I knew I still had the love, the work ethic, the passion," Fisher said. "The injury was a setback. The biggest struggle was for me, even after 16 years (in the NBA), playing in a different city, being away from my family. Those are things that I struggled with. But as I was leaving Dallas, I understood the risks that that could possibly be my last game or my last opportunity."
He said his knee was healthy enough by Jan. 1 for him to resume training, and he hopes the end of career is not near.
"I'm not planning on retiring at the end of the season but if this is my last season, I deserve this opportunity to be here with this group," Fisher said. "So, that's really what brought me back."
Coach Scott Brooks wouldn't say if Fisher or swingman Ronnie Brewer, who was acquired in a trade last week, will be activated for Wednesday night's game against New Orleans. He said both will get playing time, but he's not divulging how he plans to shake up his rotation to mix in the two playoff-tested veterans.
"Minutes are going to be had, minutes are going to be probably taken away from many guys, and not just because of Derek Fisher. Just as the season goes on, sometimes the rotations become smaller," Brooks said. "In order to have a good team, you have to have guys that are committed to the team, and sometimes those things happen.