Don't dare refer to Derek Fisher as “coach.” Not now, perhaps not ever.
Despite presumptions to the contrary, Fisher is not inching closer to a career in coaching.
“I don't envy NBA coaches, I really don't,” the 38-year-old Fisher said during his exit interview with media two weeks ago. “I love the game and I love the details and nuisances of trying to be your best on a daily basis, but I have been so fortunate to play for so long I don't know if I want to transition into something as so grueling and grinding and stressful as coaching.
“I would like to find something a little less stressful. As most athletes find out it is hard to leave something you've loved for so long. I can't say ever, but definitely not at the top of the list at this point.”
A future in politics perhaps?
“No. No way. Not a chance on that one,” said Fisher, who has served as president of the National Basketball Players Association since 2006. “At one point there was some slight interest, but that has gone to zero.”
Do players still call you Barack Obama?
“No,” said a smiling Fisher. “Talk about (Obama) having a tough time right now, losing a basketball game isn't that big of a deal.”
Future employment with the NBA?
“No,” Fisher responded quickly.
After 17 seasons in the NBA, Fisher is not ready to be put out to pasture just yet. He still has something to offer on the court.
Fisher certainly proved this during his two partial seasons with the Thunder. If Fisher, an unrestricted free agent, is willing to play for minimum wage next season, perhaps general manager Sam Presti might re-sign him a third time.
Some OKC fans might freak out if that happens, but no one inside the Thunder locker room would have any complaints, particularly coach Scott Brooks.
“It really makes no sense for me to have to defend Fish,” Brooks said the night OKC eliminated the Houston Rockets in the first round of last year's playoffs. “It always seems like I have to defend him … But he has made our team better. His common influence is incredible, will to win, and his spirit of doing it every day is something that all teams should strive to play like.”
Fisher is still committed to winning a sixth championship ring, and the Thunder remains a viable candidate to reach the NBA summit in the next few years.
Fisher did not re-join OKC until Feb. 25 this season, but certainly was impressed with the team's 60-22 record, which earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
“Well, the toughest part about this business once you become successful is replicating that and doing it over and over again,” Fisher said. “To take a team that went to the NBA Finals a year ago, lost, and to come back and win 60 games in the regular season when most teams are generally bored after making it to the Finals, nothing compares to playoff intensity and playoff adrenaline.
“So to come back and be better than everybody else 60 out of 80 times, it is not easy. This team was able to accomplish that and that is a huge step. It shows a level of respect for every time you step onto the floor, respecting your opponent and being ready to play Monday night, Tuesday night, Thursday night, Friday night, back-to-backs, and seven-day road trips, the team was ready to play.”