The Oklahoman’s staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Derek Fisher.
Assuming Derek Fisher’s playing days are indeed over, how would you categorize his time in a Thunder uniform?
Darnell Mayberry, Thunder beat writer: Fun while it lasted, but ultimately incomplete. Fisher came to Oklahoma City for one reason: to win his sixth championship. Against all odds, he gave it his best shot, performing admirably in that pursuit while also serving as a trusted teammate and valuable mentor for the better part of three seasons. So he has nothing to be ashamed of. But after coming up short three straight years for various reasons, Fisher would probably be the first to say this was a bittersweet ride.
Anthony Slater, Thunder beat writer: Cliché-filled, but underrated. Coach on the court. Leader in the locker room. Provides all the intangibles. It got to the point that, when asked about Fisher, Scott Brooks would preface it with: “Well, I know you get tired of hearing it …” before rattling the ‘winning’ qualities off anyway. But as redundant as it could be to constantly hear, a ton of it was true. He was influential for this organization and great for its young, impressionable stars. Plus, he was decent enough when he played. Solid tenure.
Berry Tramel, Columnist: Solid. Fisher was eighth on the team in playoff minutes this postseason. He was sixth in 2013 playoff minutes. Seventh in 2012 playoff minutes. Fish became a solid bench contributor. And his regal countenance will pay dividends for years. People still talk about Kevin Ollie’s off-court impact from his solitary year in Oklahoma City. Fisher was around for a lot longer and had even more impact.
What’s one thing you think every Thunder player should adopt from Fisher?
Mayberry: His approach. Whether he was preparing for that night’s game, staying late to get up extra shots after practice, picking people’s brains about the smallest of details or maintaining his body, Fisher was always doing something to ensure that he was ready, physically and mentally, when his name was called. He used every resource available to be the best he could be. If his teammates follow his lead, the Thunder will be better because they did.
Slater: Defensive disposition. The Thunder had plenty of lapses on that end this season, but Fisher didn’t. He was occasionally exploited by quicker, younger guards, like Jamal Crawford in the Clippers series. But that was a physical, Father Time issue, not an effort problem. When on the court, Fisher was high-octane and fully committed. He played with a constant energy that, if converted over to the Thunder’s younger players, would turn OKC into a nightly defensive juggernaut.
Tramel: Confidence. Derek Fisher is confident. He’s ready to shoot when called upon. If Thabo Sefolosha had a quarter of Derek Fisher’s confidence, Thabo would be signing a new contract for more money to remain the Thunder starting shooting guard. Fisher knows how to play. Any current limitations are all physically based. But the thing that keeps him going is he’s ready at all times and fears nothing.
When next season begins, where is Fisher and what is he doing?
Mayberry: New York. Coaching the Knicks. The Lakers might be the preferred locale given Fisher’s family residence and his history with the franchise. But the Knicks have been waiting on Fisher for what seems like forever. And with Fisher’s friend and former coach, Phil Jackson, running the show in New York, that gig appears to be too good of a match to turn down.
Slater: Working under Phil Jackson, leading a flawed Knicks roster in what’ll likely be an unsuccessful start to what I think will be a highly successful coaching career. Players are going to have no trouble getting motivated to perform under Fisher.
Tramel: He’s taking a cab from the Upper East Side to Madison Square Garden to coach the Knickerbockers in their season opener, probably against the Netropolitans.