Oklahoma City Thunder: Before his Thunder days, Derek Fisher helped hold Kobe Bryant and the Lakers together

Now in his 18th season, Derek Fisher has already announced it will be his last. He’s retiring after this final run with the Thunder. But even though the veteran guard will close out his career in OKC — his fifth team — Fisher will always be remembered as a Laker.
by Anthony Slater Published: March 8, 2014
Advertisement
;

Leading up to the 2007-08 NBA season, Kobe Bryant had become a bit disenchanted with the Lakers organization.

He publicly slammed the front office — even requesting a trade — and was booed by his home crowd on opening night.

But by the end of 2008, the Lakers were again in harmony, on their way to a pair of NBA titles over the next two seasons.

And in his tell-all book, legendary Lakers coach Phil Jackson said “probably the most important reason” for that turnaround was the re-signing of Derek Fisher.

Now in his 18th season, Fisher has already announced it will be his last. He’s retiring after this final run with the Thunder.

But even though the veteran guard will close out his career in OKC — his fifth team — Fisher will always be remembered as a Laker.

Thirteen seasons. Five championships. More than a thousand games in the purple and gold. An NBA success story born and bloomed in Los Angeles. And a chapter of his career that will close on Sunday afternoon, when Fisher plays his final game against the Lakers in the Staples Center.

“He was always underrated as a Laker,” long-time L.A. basketball writer Mark Heisler said. “From his first day to his last day.”

Los Angeles is a metropolis overrun with stars. And it’s a basketball fanbase that naturally gravitates toward the big names. So playing alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe, Fisher was always an overshadowed role player.

But ask those around the Lakers’ last five title teams, and Fisher’s importance becomes clear, far beyond his on-court numbers.

Back in 2007, the organization was in a bit of turmoil.

But Fisher’s arrival steadied the ship. It was his second stint with the Lakers, this time bringing a veteran presence and respected voice for some of the young talent.

But, more importantly, he was a trusted ally for the Lakers disgruntled superstar.

Fisher and Kobe came into the league together back in 1996. And because of his tireless work ethic and professional approach to the game, Fisher immediately earned the respect and ear of Kobe.

“Very few people were able to have Kobe’s confidence and trust,” former Laker Rick Fox explained. “Derek was one of them.”

In an interview this past offseason, Kobe said Fisher was “my all-time favorite teammate.” And adding him to that 2007-08 team reinvigorated Kobe and, in turn, the organization.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
+ show more


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    OHP: Trooper turned off dash camera during alleged sexual assaults
  2. 2
    New accusations: Adrian Peterson injured another son while disciplining 4-year-old
  3. 3
    University of Tulsa student charged with murder in death of 6-week-old baby
  4. 4
    OU football: Find yourself in the OU-Tennessee crowd with this hi-res stadium photo
  5. 5
    Report: Former Broken Arrow receiver Levi Copelin dismissed from Missouri football
+ show more