YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Derek Fisher makes presence felt with Thunder

Although All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook admit it was 'weird' and 'different' to see the former Lakers point guard in their locker room, other Oklahoma City players are noticing a difference.

March 30, 2012|By Melissa Rohlin

Derek Fisher was known around the league as a leader in the Lakers locker room, the well-spoken floor general who commanded the respect of Kobe Bryant while helping lead the team to five NBA championships.

So when Fisher entered Oklahoma City's locker room for the first time, the Thunder players were a bit taken aback.

"It was weird," said All-Star forward Kevin Durant, through a big smile.

Said All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook: "it was definitely a litltle different."

Fisher, who was traded to Houston by the Lakers on March 15, joined Oklahoma City after negotiating a buyout with the Rockets last week. He has been with the Thunder for five games.

"I think the door was shut pretty hard in terms of how it happened," Fisher said of leaving the Lakers. "Obviously the team felt that they needed to move on and I have as well."

Fisher returned to Staples Center on Thursday evening to play against his former team for the first time. He received a raucous standing ovation when he was subbed into the game with about two minutes remaining in the first quarter.

At halftime, he and Kobe Bryant exchanged a sentimental bear hug as Bryant walked toward the Lakers bench.

"Overall my emotions were in a pretty good space the entire time," Fisher said of the experience.

Fisher finished with seven points on three-for-six shooting in the Thunders' 102-93 victory -- but his main contribution to the team already appears to be similar to what it was with the Lakers, reaching far beyond that which can be seen in box scores, entering into the realm of the intangible.

"He defintiely changed the locker room already, soon as he walked in, from the first day, on game one," said rookie point guard Reggie Jackson.

Jackson sat next to Fisher on the bench Tuesday during the Thunder's victory at Portland.

It didn't take long before Jackson became an eager pupil and Fisher a willing instructor.

"He was just talking me through every moment and what we possibly should be doing on defense and offense," Jackson said. "He lets me just ask questions and he's always willing to give advice back so it really helps."

Fisher seems as though he's enjoying his role.

When talking to a group of reporters about the Thunder after the game, Fisher used words such has "refreshing" and "enjoyable."

"To be on such a young team is a lot of fun," he said. "The locker room is extremely different than what our locker room used to be like."

A reporter then asked Fisher if the Lakers did him a favor since he landed with a team that is expected to go deep into the playoffs and is currently at the top of the Western Conference.

Fisher was quick to say no in terms of the burden that the deal has placed on his family, which has been split up by the move.

But when he thought about the question in terms of basketball, he hesitated before he answered.

"I made the most of the circumstances I was placed in, and I'm very happy with the decision I made."

Los Angeles Times Articles