Thunder Happy To Keep Goin’ Fishin’

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HOUSTON — It’s not just the words, but the way you say them. It’s not just the results that find you on top of the mountain, but all the steps it took to get you there.

That Derek Fisher is still playing in the NBA 17 years after he arrived from Arkansas-Little Rock is no more of a surprise than the fact that he helped finally close the door on the young and restless Rockets. Slammed it. Bolted it. Then hammered in a couple of nails for good measure. It’s what he does.

Maybe part of the reason the 38-year-old Fisher is never looking toward the end of his career is because he’s always been so busy working on the end of games.

– 0.4 seconds left at San Antonio in 2004.

– Running out of the tunnel and onto the floor at Salt Lake City in 2007.

– The pair of clutch 3-pointers at Orlando in the 2009 NBA Finals.

– Game 3 of The Finals at Boston in 2010.

If there’s a loop of basketball video highlights playing on a loop somewhere in eternity, you can pretty much bet that Fisher will always be front and center, hitting shots, making plays, making his team better just by being on it.

You could argue that Fisher was the second-best Thunder player in the series behind Kevin Durant.

“I’ve been around a lot of guys and heard them talk to the team,” said Thunder forward Nick Collison. “There’s usually a lot of eye-rolling and things like that. But with Derek, it’s different. He has a way.”

Fisher’s way was to pull the Thunder back from the brink on Friday night in Game 6 just when things looked like they could be getting away. When he checked into the game with 5:48 left in the third quarter, Oklahoma City was down by 10 and 12 minutes later the Thunder were up by 13. Fisher scored all 11 of his points in the final 13 minutes of the game.

“It really makes no sense for me to defend Fish, what he brings to the team,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “It seems like I have to defend him. But I’ll tell you what, when we brought him in last year, it really helped us. Thank God he was available and we made the trade … but he has made our team better.”

That’s always been his knack, whether he’s standing in the shadow of Shaquille O’Neal or Kobe Bryant in L.A. or Durant or Russell Westbrook in OKC.

It’s not just the big shots on the court, though there are many. It’s the small talk in the locker room and on the practice floor, where he nurtures them all as if they were his kindergarten class and gives a second-year point guard like Reggie Jackson some extra care.

When Westbrook tore the ligament in his knee and was lost for the series, it was Jackson who inherited the burden of filling his sneakers. It’s been a heavy lift, but you could see Jackson flex his muscles and eventually get the whole thing off the ground as the series continued because Fisher showed him how to handle the load.

“He brings tremendous confidence to this team and to me,” Jackson said. “He is a great mentor. You can’t tell he’s the oldest guy on the team. …There’s a mental battle to this game and things start to slow down and your body starts to wear and tear, but mentally I haven’t seen anybody prepare like him.”

Fisher scored eight points, shot 3-for-3 from the field, knocked down a pair of killer 3s and made two big steals in the fourth quarter. He also shadowed James Harden defensively through the final period, cutting off driving lanes, challenging shots. In other words, all of the things that he’s been doing for nearly two decades in the league, which have earned him five championship rings and a level of respect in a locker room atmosphere where frauds and self-promoters are easily exposed and ignored.

“He’s like another coach, only he’s one of us right here as a player,” said Collison. “He has a way of talking to you that makes you want to listen.”

They are common sense things, nothing magical or mystical in what he’s saying.

“I’m just reminding them that it’s about us, about our group,” Fisher said. “That accomplishing something special requires you to give more than you receive.”

Now with a harder-than-expected first round series behind them, the road only gets tougher for the Thunder against the rugged Grizzlies and — down one freakishly talented shooting guard — they’ll need all of his wisdom and their wiles to keep moving forward.

They listen to him because he’s done it. They respect him and they shake their heads at him because he keeps right on doing it. And all the while, he’s never lifting up his head to take a peek at the end of a career.

“No, I don’t,” Fisher said. “I really don’t. It’s a state of mind. As long as you’re willing to physically work hard and be focused on the discipline…you don’t have to look at age as the end. As long as you can find ways to impact your team and be helpful, why not keep going?”

The kid Jackson has his thoughts from across the locker room.

“I think they should sign him to a four-year (contract),” he said.

Fisher laughs and shakes his head. The end is coming, but that doesn’t mean he has to greet it.

36 Comments

  1. Gary Payton says:

    What big market team will Durant and Westbrook play for when their contract is up?

  2. Gary Payton says:

    Grizzlies or Spurs out of the West?

  3. Alan Hollway says:

    Just accept Fisher for what he is now a side dish but a very important side dish, if he has to run all night against a parker then he will pucker out, but that is not his role, mentor, add some character, throw some treys and steady in difficult moments. Most teams in the playoffs would like to have a D-Fish in their team even if he has burnt many of his clubs with flimsy excuses to get out of contracts. He remains who he is , crafty, cunning and self serving, but still capable of turning a match around.

  4. Why is fran saying OKC happy to go fishing when it’s the losing team that goes fishing, just ask the guys over @ tnt tv-ah drr. ;)

  5. Gary Payton says:

    Memphis in 6, end of story! No Westbrook or Harden, not as good of team as last year!

  6. Patty says:

    OKC HAVE DONE A GREAT JOB SINCE WESTBROOK WENT DOWN.

    GO DERRICK FISHER!!!

  7. Henry says:

    HERE GOES FRAN BLINEBURY THE OKC HATER AGAIN… YOU SHOULD PRAISE K-MART TOO YOU BIAS OAF…

  8. Kimmy says:

    Fisher is a great side dish to the OKC menu. Great decision made by Scott Brooks to get him back again. Stop drinking haterade people. It’s over with! OKC beat the Rockets, and guess what, they can beat the Grizzlies too if they concentrate and focus, one game at a time. Watch Out for the Thunder!!! Go OKC! You can do it. We miss you Westbrook! See you next year!!!!!

  9. Liam says:

    Do you ever shut up Fran? You must be mad because Fisher became clutch to knock your Rockets out of the playoffs. What was that you was saying? Bias writer like you should get fired. You shouldn’t consider a field other than journalism because anyone could give their opinion. You aren’t informing anyone of anything, bias opinion doesn’t count.

  10. Soltero32 says:

    Now he is slow, but in his times he was a beast. Key player for LA and some of the rings are just because of him. He is not even the shadow of the player he was, and he still is productive enough to play big minutes in a contender.

  11. Joke says:

    Calling Derek Fisher a role model is a joke.

    He used his sick child as a pawn to get out of a contract he didn’t like.

    Good player or not, he isn’t a role model.

  12. Tony says:

    Im laughing at the Houston fans’ post. They must be very mad. I was right from the beginning about Playing Fisher. Not only of his offense but when he defends Harden it makes so much difference. When Thabo was guarding Harden, Harden shoots and make his 3 points, if not he drive in and get foul. Fisher step in, cut his lane and make Harden misses his shot. Okc second unit should be the starter in the Houston series. Since Perkin,Ibaka and Thabo played so lousy in the fisrt series, they get second chance with the Memphis, this series should be a lot more physical and aggressive….

  13. J.J.J says:

    what? fisher god dammit! overrated player as hell! he sould take are of his family and stop playing basketball he is so dirty

  14. YoYo says:

    Fish only FLop when they are out of water!!!! I guess that his job, haha flopper flop on!!

  15. W/E says:

    Omg, Thunder vs Memphis, thats gunna be good, Fisher is in very good shape for a 38 year old, he can still make big shots and be a factor.

  16. OKC says:

    I noticed you called Westbrook a shooting guard. Thinly veiled insult from a Rockets fan.

  17. OKC says:

    Yesterday Blinebury was saying we aren’t contenders, and now his only nod once we beat his precious Rockets is to say Fisher was our second best player in the series? Don’t think that calling Westbrook a Shooting Guard won’t go unnoticed either. Thinly veiled insults from a biased writer/another thunderstruck Rockets fan.

    • celtic533 says:

      Yeah i was like did K-Mart get injured too?But then i’m realized he was talking about Westbrook.

    • DJ3 says:

      And I guess you and your comment is not biased at all? Come on. We all know the Hang Time crew loves the Grizz, not the Rockets. Just shut up before Tony Allen runs into KD and puts him on the surgery table too.

      • OKCKD35 says:

        Wow, is that how u like to win? Injuring players? People like you don’t deserve to watch the NBA

  18. Lakers in 2014 says:

    Love you Fisher, miss you so much. Wish you never left us.

  19. Sintido kumon says:

    This is the same fisher that ditched dallas and then with OKC not even considering the fact that mark Cuban was the only person who signed him this season…this is Derek fisher who flops a lot but isn’t getting any warning from the commissioner’s office,and honestly catching the ball,turning around and fading away with 0.4 seconds remaining was just not possible…

  20. Durant says:

    Stats really don’t show everything regarding one’s impact on the team. Memphis have a very strong frontcourt with Z-bo and Marc. But I believe the thunders are fighters. This will be a very good match-up. ThunderUp from the Philippines.

    • Greg says:

      you’re an idiot if you think hes overrated. if anything hes underrated. this is the only article ive seen about fisher all season. hes a veteran both on and off the court. if you need a leader, he’s your guy. without fisher, i doubt the lakers would have won the championships they won.

      • Wes Kennedy says:

        Greg is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. Anyone who thinks Derek Fisher is overrated clearly doesn’t understand the game. Every guy who has played with Fisher fully agrees with Greg’s comments, including Kobe Bryant.

  21. Tom says:

    He should be off fishing with the Mavs. Glad to see Brooks values integrity in his players