I walked into the office Thursday morning, and my sports editor said, “Hey, you took it easy on Derek Fisher.”
Then I answered emails from Thunder fans wanting to know why I was supporting Fisher.
I went on the radio Thursday afternoon, and Jim Traber was mystified on why I would give the Thunder a platform to defend Fisher, his shooting slump and his playing time, which to some of us seems excessive.
But between those events, I got an email from a reader named Joe, who wrote, “Did your mother ever tell you to say nothing if you can’t say something good? Ignoring a subject or person sends a strong message in itself. I’m ashamed of your two recent articles on Fish.”
And Friday, I got a phone message from an elderly lady with a 527 prefix who said: “Mr. Tramel, are you out of your mind?. I just read what you wrote, and I’m ashamed of you. I’m ashamed of you for the remarks you made about Fisher and for other things. Sure, you have a lot of freedom with the press. But let’s not put down people in this day and time. We need to build up people and share the joy of just enjoying sports. I don’t know if I’ll read your column anymore. I’m terribly upset with what you have written.”
So I feel better about the whole thing. My column on Fisher — which you can read here — apparently was perfect. People on both side of the Fisher debate are outraged.
I stand by what I wrote. If the Thunder wants to play Fisher 10 minutes a game, fine. I wish those minutes were going to Ronnie Brewer, but I’m not going to get worked up about it. However, if Fisher plays 15-20 minutes and takes away minutes from Thabo Sefolosha, then we’re going to have some problems.
But it’s completely charming how some Thunder fans feel about the players. I wrote about the grandmotherly aspect of the relationship. While the Thunder has plenty of fans who analyze stats and agonize over every possession and occasionally are driven crazy by Scotty Brooks’ rotations, the Thunder also has some fans that feel about the team the same way the good folks of Latta feel about their high school team. I wrote about these maternal instincts last summer, after the Heat took out the Thunder in the NBA Finals. You can read that column here.
Some Thunder fans feel an overwhelming connection to the players, even a 38-year-old who might be as old as the maternally-instincted.
The truth is, Fisher is great to have around; there’s no doubt he helps the Thunder with his presence. Fisher still can play a little, but not a lot. Some people want that shouted from atop Devon Tower. Others don’t want it even whispered.