DALLAS – The Derek Fisher-Dallas Mavericks saga had one last loud go-round Sunday, as the point guard who played nine games for Dallas between Thanksgiving and Christmas was lustily booed when he checked in late in the first quarter.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban led the chorus.
“I’ll just boo him like hopefully everybody else,” Cuban said prior to the Mavs taking on Fisher’s new team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Fisher signed with the Thunder in late February, about two months after asking the Mavs to release him from his contract. Fisher said in a statement at the time that he wanted to return to his family in Los Angeles. Fisher, 38, immediately took over as the starting point guard for Darren Collison and averaged 8.4 ppg and 3.4 apg. The Mavs, who have had trouble finishing games all season, were 5-4 with Fisher.
After the 17-year veteran signed with title-contending Thunder, the team he joined late last season, as well, Cuban reacted with sarcasm. He said that Fisher’s kids had time to grow up during the eight weeks between leaving the Mavs and joining the Thunder, and Cuban joked that it’s easier to fly in and out of Oklahoma City than Dallas.
On Sunday, Cuban said that Fisher repeatedly made pitches to him and asked for advice before signing with the Mavs. Cuban said he “took the bait.”
“With his history, I shouldn’t have been surprised with what happened,” Cuban said. “I tried to offer him some help. I thought I offered him some positive encouragement and advice, and then we signed him. I expected a different turnout than what happened.”
After the 2007 playoffs with the Utah Jazz, Fisher asked out of his contract to better deal with his infant daughter’s battle with eye cancer. He later signed a three-year contract to return to the Los Angeles Lakers. Last season, after being dealt from the Lakers to the Houston Rockets, he had his contract bought out and joined the Thunder, who lost to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
After Sunday’s shootaround, Fisher said he holds no hard feelings toward Cuban. He hopes Cuban will eventually feel the same.
“I love Mark and I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he’s done and does in terms of this team,” Fisher told The Dallas Morning News. “There’s no question about how passionate he is for his team. If it was my team and I wanted to win, I would want as many players that I felt like could help me.
“I take [Cuban’s criticism] more as a positive thing than a negative. He saw some value I provided and would like to still have me here. But as far as long-term for me, I don’t have any issues with Mark, and hopefully one day, we’ll be able to get past this and have much more things to enjoy and laugh about than the short few weeks here.”
Fisher might be waiting a while.
“It’s not so much what he did,” Cuban said. “It’s how he did it.”