In the grand scheme of things, Derek Fisher is a very polarizing figure. Fans either love him or hate him. They joke about his leadership abilities and locker room presence. Some people say “Hey, give a young player a chance.” Others think he’s pretty decent for his age. However, inside the Thunder locker room, he’s revered. He’s held on a pedestal where he’s basically untouchable.
“You ask every single person in that locker room,” Scott Brooks said. “They’ll tell you how much Derek Fisher means to this team.”
That goes for throughout the N.B.A. too. He was elected President of the NBA Players Union for many years and the one and only Kobe Bryant trusted him to be on his side for every World Championship that Kobe has won. So, it’s safe to say, in the world of the NBA, Derek Fisher is well liked.
Everyone also knows how great of a family man Fisher is and how he arrived 10 minutes before a playoff game in 2007. He came in late because his wife had emergency eye surgery in Los Angeles. He took a flight to Los Angeles, and then came back to Utah right before tip-off. (You can read the heroic tell here.)
“I don’t envy NBA coaches, I really don’t,” Fisher said during exit interviews back in May. “I love the game and I love the details and nuances 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.”
Things happen that you all don’t see as well. Fisher, after almost every practice is working with young guys and coaches. He’s sending out his many years of game knowledge, and helping improve this ball club. He earns his spot on the court. Whether or not he may be the most talented player, his ability to develop players and be a locker room guy is more than enough for this organization to back him on and off the court.
“He has such a positive impact on his teammates and the organization,” said Sam Presti.
Whether or not Fisher actually ends up with a team after he retires, he’d be welcomed in Oklahoma City, that’s for sure. Talked to someone within the Thunder and they said they don’t expect Fisher to coach, but we could see him inside the front office.
However, if he didn’t land up in the Thunder front office, Fisher would be a perfect fit for the Laker front office. All of his family is still in Los Angeles, and his relationship with the Lakers is still on great terms. Even Bryant said he’d welcome Fisher back to the Lakers as a player.
For all the flack that Fisher has received in his two plus seasons here in Oklahoma City. He’s brought something special to this franchise, and has helped develop a young roster. It’s not wild to say that Fisher was key in this team winning the Western Conference and moving onto the NBA Finals.
This is Fisher’s last season as a professional player, he’ll have his ups and downs, but we should celebrate a player who’s had a great career and chose to finish it up in a wonderful place like Oklahoma City.