Oklahoma City Thunder: Derek Fisher, once a little-known guard, to become NBA leader in postseason games played

On Tuesday night, in one of the more unlikely NBA success stories, Fisher will likely enter Game 5 of the Thunder-Grizzlies series at some point in the first half. And in doing so, he will pass seven-time champion Robert Horry for the most postseason games played in NBA history – 245 and counting.
by Anthony Slater Published: April 28, 2014

The undersized, underappreciated guard from Little Rock, Ark., was forced to come off the bench his junior year of high school.

By his senior year, Derek Fisher was a starter, but certainly not a star.

Seven eventual Division I players were on that 1991-92 Parkview team – the 35-1 Arkansas state champ that finished the season ranked fourth nationally – so Fisher naturally floated out of the spotlight.

He wasn’t the leading scorer. Didn’t get the most rebounds. Wouldn’t command the glory. But even at 17, the stocky and clutch point guard knew how to contribute to a winning culture. Still does, too, with lessons learned more than 20 years ago still paying dividends today.

On Tuesday night, in one of the more unlikely NBA success stories, Fisher will likely enter Game 5 of the Thunder-Grizzlies series at some point in the first half. And in doing so, he will pass seven-time champion Robert Horry for the most postseason games played in NBA history – 245 and counting.

“Couldn’t have imagined this,” Fisher reflected on the feat. “Couldn’t have dreamt it, couldn’t have paid Joel Silver to write it or direct it or produce it. Not in my wildest dreams.”

After a solid four-year career at Arkansas-Little Rock, Fisher was taken late in the first round of the 1996 Draft. He came in as a relative unknown, the “other guy” in a Lakers rookie class that included Kobe Bryant.

Those first few years, Fisher acted as a ready-made veteran, steady and productive when called upon, quiet and supportive when not. He quickly earned a starting role.

But as the Lakers moved into their glory years at the turn of the century, they continually tried to replace him with someone bigger, someone faster, someone more talented.

“I never got it,” long-time Lakers trainer Gary Vitti said. “I mean, we tried to put people in that position, but Fish was very successful for us. Things just worked better with him in there.”

So Fisher continued to play big minutes and have big moments. On those first three Laker title teams, he averaged 34-plus minutes and double-digits in all three playoff runs.

“Getting drafted by the Lakers and being drafted into a situation where success was priority,” Fisher said. “Winning, competing for a championship, that mentality that you had to have from Day 1. It taught me from early on, you can’t be a selfish type of player, because you’re fitting into something larger than yourself.”


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...
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