At age 38, having rejoined the Oklahoma City Thunder, point guard Derek Fisher is getting even tougher to defend — for me, anyway.
My default setting is to respect Fisher and hope he succeeds, but not this time. If there were genuine family-oriented reasons for him to leave the Jazz and join the Los Angeles Lakers five years ago, he may have abused that strategy this season.
Fisher’s asking to be released by Dallas when he injured his knee in December, saying his family needed him, was acceptable, maybe even commendable. But then he re-signed with Oklahoma City last week, after the Thunder traded Eric Maynor, another ex-Jazz point guard.
Hmmm. Might be time to activate the women who once wore those “Fisher Lied” shirts to a Jazz-Lakers playoff game.
It was different last season, when the Lakers chose to release Fisher and he joined the Thunder, who welcomed his leadership and playoff experience. In that context, it was fine for me or anyone else to hope he would win a sixth championship as Oklahoma City challenged Miami in the NBA Finals.
So now he’s wearing No. 6 to symbolize the relaunch of his title pursuits, but he’s lost my endorsement. That’s not to say I’ll ever cross over completely to cynicism or criticism regarding his departure from the Jazz. It may have been a shrewd move, as he managed to find employment with the Lakers, but his motives were reasonably pure in the wake of his young daughter’s cancer diagnosis.
In this case, no matter what Fisher says about his family encouraging him to come back, he’s played that card once too often. It also remains to be seen how much he’ll contribute to the Thunder. After playing 21 minutes in a rout of New Orleans, he worked only five minutes in a loss to Denver and then stayed on the bench Sunday in a win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Fisher is reunited with former Jazz teammate Ronnie Brewer, who was traded from New York to Oklahoma City. If the Jazz make the Western Conference playoffs, there’s about a 1-in-3 chance they would meet the Thunder in the first round.
Having decried Jazz fans’ harsh treatment of Fisher in his returns to EnergySolutions Arena, I probably could be persuaded to give them an exemption in April.