Does anyone around here realize who and what the Oklahoma City Thunder got when it signed Derek Fisher? Really?
I don’t think so.
There’s still quite a bit of talk around town that gives you the feeling Derek Fisher is Kevin Ollie 2.0 and not someone the Thunder should be granting important minutes. I hear a good bit of it around my office.
Did last night change anyone’s mind? The Thunder rolled over the Lakers, 102-93, in a game that competitively wasn’t that close. But Oklahoma City was wobbling when Fisher stabilized things with seven points in the second quarter. None came on forced 3-point attempts. Everything was off drives and pull-up jumpers in the flow or off a hustle play, like Fisher’s and-one basket after Nick Collison went to the floor for a loose ball.
Derek Fisher wears his age on his No. 37 jersey, but he’s got the body of a light-weight fighter and the heart and mind of — well — a champion.
Here’s what Thunder center Kendrick Perkins (himself an NBA champion with the Celtics) told Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears about Fisher: “He’s won five rings. Now I can kind of shut up around here and listen to him.”
I also like what Thunder coach Scott Brooks said on the radio pregame show Thursday: The Thunder didn’t sign Fisher to sit around the campfire and tell stories about the Lakers’ championship days. They got him because he can play.
The other day the Sports Animal’s Al Eschbach made the best point about why Fisher can play better here than he did in L.A.: The Lakers traded Fisher basically because he couldn’t guard quick point guards like Russell Westbrook anymore. But in Oklahoma City he’s playing with Westbrook, not against him, and guarding everyone else’s backup point guard.
Meanwhile, the Ramon Sessions hysteria might be wearing off in Tinseltown. The Lakers still don’t have anyone who can guard Westbrook, and I’m not certain that anyone does.
The Thunder’s defensive culture is perfect for Fisher and vice versa. On defense, Fisher is prone to crowding opposing point guards like a boxer cutting off the ring. He’s not going to be guarding Derrick Rose Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena, so Brooks need not worry about too many contingency plans. But just in case there’s Serge Ibaka’s incomparable weakside shotblocking skills, and Nick Collison’s uncanny weakside help. Fisher, whose trade to Houston made him out to be the scapegoat for the fact that the Lakers aren’t the Lakers anymore, had no backing like that in L.A.
When the ball is in his hands, Fisher always makes the right play, always does what the team needs and/or what the coach asked him to do. You think jacking all those 3-pointers last Friday night against Minnesota was his idea? It was a court-spreading strategy that worked splendidly — taking one more defender away from the basket and clearing a better path for Westbrook’s drives that contributed to a 45-point night.
Sometimes it’s easy to miss the little things guys like Derek Fisher contribute. But it’s not just the little things. More than one national expert has said it: Sometime in the playoffs, Derek Fisher is going to win a big game for the Thunder. He didn’t win that game Thursday night, but I’m not positive the Thunder would have won without his second-quarter contribution.
I don’t think it’s crazy talk to believe that playing in OKC could add a couple years to Fisher’s career. Hopefully it won’t take that long for some folks in OKC to figure out what the Thunder has in the player Royal Ivey has taken to calling “Uncle Fish.”
We’re still waiting for the governor to declare the Thunder’s NBA title hopes a state of emergency, but the President and Derek Fisher have been dispatched to Oklahoma City in wake of last night’s loss to the Utah Jazz.
Maybe an aging, stationary, classy guard who just might be the NBA’s best non-superstar clutch shooter can save the day. But reports about a Fisher citing at the airport Wednesday and the local conversation about the merits of signing him definitely affirm something: This town’s obsession with the Thunder.
And into this swirl comes an email from the Oklahoma City RedHawks, tapping us on the shoulder today to remind us that baseball is still around. The RedHawks opened their ticket office at 9 a.m. Wednesday to begin selling single-game tickets for the 2012 season, Bedlam Series tickets and Big 12 tournament tickets.
Their pitch: affordable family entertainment and fresh air.
Admission will cost you $5 on the outfield lawn (the berm), $9 for third-base terrace (Friday-Sundays only), $11 for bleachers and $17 for field seats.
The Oklahoma-Oklahoma State Bedlam baseball series plays at the Brick on May 5-6. A little more pricey ($22, $17 and $13).
All-session and weekend passes to the Big 12 Baseball Championship May 23-27 are now available at the Brick box office. Here are those prices:
Club seats ($202)
Box seats ($117)
Reserved seats ($87)
Box seats ($87)
That’s a lot of baseball, and you can get it at the RedHawks Box Office on Mickey Mantle Drive, through Ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000.
Our old Thunder live chat buddy @MartzMimic — aka Chris Lambert — came up with quite a find yesterday as Derek Fisher-to-the-Thunder talk heated up. It’s a Q&A Fisher did with USA Today in 2009 in which the then Lakers guard professed his affection for Oklahoma City. You can read it here.
As part of their conversation about travel for USA Today’s Destinations package, Kelly Carter asked Fisher what was the most surprising/unexpected place he’s ever visited.
Fisher’s answer: OKC.
“Being in the NBA, you are on the road and in a different city every few days. We have traveled to Oklahoma City, and I was very surprised to find such a sense of community, kind people and was extremely touched by the Oklahoma City National Memorial honoring those who were lost in the bombing of the Federal Building.”
Go ahead, Thunder fans, say it. He had you at hello.
We’re hiring a new University of Oklahoma football writer, again.
Travis Haney is leaving to become a national college football writer at ESPN. We’ll miss Travis. Like our readers, I appreciate the job he did covering the Sooners.
Travis caught ESPN’s eye in the one season he spent with us because of his talent, the visibility of the Oklahoma football beat and the tools and platform The Oklahoman and NewsOK affords our reporters. The amount of newspaper space we devote to college football is second to none, as are our video and multimedia platforms. And the content we produce is strong.
Recently, the Associated Press Sports Editors judged The Oklahoman to be among the top 10 for daily, Sunday and special sections. We’ve also been judged among the top 10 for websites with more than 2 million unique visitors. We are one of four papers in the country to achieve the so-called APSE “grand-slam,” joining the New York Times, the Boston Globe and Omaha World-Herald.
This is a good place to work and one of the most visible college football beats in the country. You can read the job description below.
I’ll have more to say on this opening later, and I’m also interested in your feedback on what you look for from our OU coverage.
OU FOOTBALL WRITER
The Oklahoman is hiring a strong storyteller and passionate journalist to cover University of Oklahoma football for our award-winning sports section and website, NewsOK.com. Our next OU football writer will engage readers across all platforms by:
– Breaking news on the No. 1 reader-interest topic we cover;
– Writing memorable features, enterprise, project and game stories;
– Making our OU blog a must-read throughout the day, every day;
– Building deep relationships with sources and readers using social media and old-fashioned tools like conversation;
– Being as comfortable in front of a camera as behind one;
– Contributing to and collaborating with a team of journalists to serve a readership captivated by sports and how we cover it.
If you’re committed to all this and helping us get better, please send a cover letter, writing samples and examples of your best digital work to: