Oklahoma City's Derek Fisher, right, says he'll take it easy… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
OKLAHOMA CITY — These are important days for Derek Fisher, trying to win a sixth championship ring and wildly surpass the expectations of the late first-round pick in 1996 out of tiny Arkansas-Little Rock.
One thing he won't do is tease Kobe Bryant if the Oklahoma City Thunder beats the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, giving Fisher one more title than Bryant. Oklahoma City is tied with Miami through two games.
"No ribbing from me for sure," Fisher said Thursday before Game 2. "I don't necessarily gain pleasure from seeing people that I'm close to not reach certain goals they have for themselves and their team. To me it's kind of sacred ground. I'm not going there. Some people will, but not me."
Bryant and Fisher were drafted the same year and played a total of 12 1/2 seasons together.
"We've kind of stayed in touch and he's wished me well," Fisher said. "It's still weird for both of us to not be on the same team in this position."
This season couldn't have lasted any longer for the president of the players' union. Fisher, who turns 38 in August, was at the forefront of the 149-day lockout and was traded a few months into the season from the Lakers to Houston in a salary dump.
Then he left $3.4 million on the table, telling the Rockets he would let them out of his guaranteed salary next season if they waived him so he could find a different team.
He's hit upon a haven with the Thunder, saying hello to ushers on the way to the court, learning to refer to Oklahoma City deferentially as a "community" instead of a city, and sometimes taking over timeout huddles to get through to teammates.
"I'm for sure enjoying my time here," said Fisher, who is averaging 6.3 points in the playoffs. "I know for sure that I want to play beyond this year, but from there I haven't put a lot of pressure on myself thinking about where that is and how that's going to happen."
Fisher didn't play well Thursday in Game 2, making one of five shots and scoring two points in 24 minutes as the Thunder lost, 100-96.
But if the Thunder wins it all, only nine players will be ahead of Fisher on the championship list. He would tie Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Scottie Pippen and Bob Cousy. Bill Russell leads everybody with 11.
Fisher's former Lakers teammate, Robert Horry, would still be one ring ahead of him.
"Rob is in a category all by himself in the modern sports era," Fisher said. "Other than the Celtics' teams of the late '50s and '60s he's in the stratosphere all alone so I won't worry about him."
Then Fisher laughs. These are important days indeed for him.