Derek Fisher arrived for his Oklahoma City introduction properly attired.
He is wearing Thunder blue now for lots of reasons. His professionalism. His leadership. His experience. But make no mistake, the Thunder didn’t sign the veteran point guard on Wednesday just because of his intangibles.
“He brings a lot of those things in the locker room that we need,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks acknowledged before his team throttled the Clippers 114-91, “but we still need him to play basketball.”
Fisher is so well-known and well-respected for his intangibles that it’s easy to assume that’s why he’s in Oklahoma City. I mean, what he is bringing to this team is amazing. He’s been in the NBA for 15-plus seasons. He’s won five championships. He’s been to the playoffs 13 times.
But despite all of that, he will be the first guy at the gym working on his game. (Well, actually, with this bunch, he might have to set his alarm a little earlier; these Thunder get to the arena hours and hours before tip.)
Traded by the Lakers a week ago, Fisher is still being missed in Los Angeles. Tuesday night, the Lakers imploded against the Rockets, blowing a double-digit lead. But the ugliness went beyond the loss. Andrew Bynum got ejected. Mike Brown got frustrated.
It was the kind of thing Fisher always had an ability to quell. Everyone listened to him. Everyone followed him.
Another sign of the respect that Fisher commands in this league — he’s the president of the NBA Players Association. It’s a spot he’s held for six years, the longest tenure of any president in nearly two decades, and it’s a position that he kept through this latest lockout.
Fisher’s fellow players wanted him helping lead negotiations with the league.
No doubt Fisher brings an impressive resume to Oklahoma City.
“He’s ... someone that I think will help all of our guys — not just the point guards but everybody — in terms of his experiences and things that he can share,” Thunder general managers Sam Presti said.
“Derek, first and foremost, he’s a player,” Presti said. “He’s going to help us on the court.”
He did Wednesday.
Even though he’d been in Oklahoma City less than 24 hours and been through zero practices with the Thunder, he played 19 minutes against the Clippers. He scored five points, grabbed one rebound, dished one assist and even blocked one shot.