DALLAS -- Outside the basketball court, Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant are dear friends. However, now that Fisher plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder, a Western Conference challenger to the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant will have no problem treating him like a foe on the court.
“Look, we don’t get five championships by being sympathetic towards each other and kissing each other's a-- during the game,” Bryant said Wednesday when asked about the Lakers’ upcoming game against the Thunder next week. “I’m going to demolish him. He understands that. If he switches off on me in the post, there’s going to be problems. I’m sure he’ll put an elbow right in my back, and that’s why we love each other.”
Fisher scored five points in 19 minutes in his first game with Oklahoma City on Wednesday -- a 114-91 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers. Bryant said he has maintained daily contact with Fisher since the 37-year-old guard was traded to the Houston Rockets last week and subsequently bought out of his remaining contract. The Lakers superstar said is not surprised where Fisher ended up after clearing waivers.
“I expected that,” Bryant said after the Lakers’ 109-93 win over the Dallas Mavericks. “The Thunder needed him, in terms of having a backup point guard who brings a lot of stability and obviously veteran leadership and an ability to make big shots. I could see that coming.”
Forward Pau Gasol, who replaced Fisher as the Lakers’ co-captain after L.A. traded the guard to Houston along with a first-round pick for center Jordan Hill, framed the acquisition in terms of what it means for the 35-12 Thunder.
“I’m happy for him because a really good team picked him up; they’re obviously first in the West right now,” Gasol said. “I think Oklahoma got better, which is not good news for us.”
Added Andrew Bynum: “I think it’s perfect. I would have done something similar, I think, given the same situation.”
After the Lakers play the Thunder next week, the teams have one final meeting on April 22 at Staples Center in the second-to-last game of the regular season for L.A. Bynum pictured an additional clash with Fisher and Oklahoma City come playoff time.
“I’m going to be so tight if we see them in the conference finals and he hits a big shot,” said Bynum. “I’m going to be like, ‘Yo, that’s crazy.’”
Before any postseason showdown occurs, the Lakers will welcome Fisher back into their building next Thursday.
“It’s going to be emotional, I’m sure for everybody and him and I in particular,” Bryant said. “Still, in all, I wish him the best.”
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.