Derek Fisher answered questions from the Los Angeles media for the first time since being traded before the Lakers played the Thunder on Thursday. The following is a full transcript:
Q: How strange are your emotions tonight?
Fisher: “My emotions aren’t really strange. I’ve kind of been through this dress rehearsal before a few times with a couple different teams. So, although it’s different, obviously different compared to what I’ve been through the last 4-5 years, but it’s a game. I play for the other team now and I’m looking forward to getting out there and competing tonight.”
Q: How about just seeing the fans and getting their reaction as well?
Fisher: “I’m most excited about seeing my friends and brothers, in terms of my ex-teammates, guys that I grew close to over the years and an extension of that, there are the fans and not just in the arena, but the entire city of Los Angeles. The love and support and appreciation that they’ve shown me over the years far exceeds anything that I could have imagined when I first moved here in 1996. So, I’m extremely thankful for everything and looking forward to playing in front of them one more time, actually a couple more times, before the regular season is even over.”
Q: Have your feelings changed now that you’ve had a week to digest this revolution and emotion? Have you changed your attitude and emotions at all towards the situation? Have you totally accepted the trade and of course, your delivering to the Thunder?
Fisher: “Yes. I know there have been a lot of statements made, including mine I guess, about what I thought I knew about the situation, whether I knew I was going to be traded, how I was going to feel about it, what my role would have been had I still been on the team, but I’m in a good place right now. Initially it was more shock then just pure disappointment. I’ve been in this business for a long time and not just for me personally, but for thousands of guys that have played this game, I’ve always thought that there were different ways to handle trade and waiver situations where there can be some more communication – not necessarily far in advance, but far enough not to have to find out from the mailman or at the post office that you’ve been traded. And I’m not saying that that’s what happened in this case, but I did wake up and I was traded.
“That’s the part that shocks you more than anything. You realize that it’s a part of the business and every guy in this league has to deal with those things, so, from that standpoint I’ve been good with it and I find myself in an extremely special situation in terms of the team of guys that I’m playing with now and the coaches and the front office, it’s just the right fit for me at the right time.”
Q: Part of the spin from the Lakers was that they worried if you would be unable to accept a lesser role in the locker room. That seems to go against everything you stood for. How do you react to that?
Fisher: “That goes against and flies in the face of not just what I’ve been since I’ve been in the NBA, but the type of team player I’ve been in every group I’ve ever been a part of. Team sports raised me in a sense. Besides my mom and dad and my family, I was raised on team sports and that meant and has always stood for sharing, sacrificing, giving of yourself so that the group can succeed. So, that’s what I’m explicitly focusing on doing for the Thunder now and I’m looking forward to finishing out this regular season and really trying to help a team that was great before I even showed up.”
Q: Were you disappointed to even hear this talk from a place you’ve been for so many years?
Fisher: “I don’t know if I was really disappointed. It’s not for me to speak at this point about how things could have been handled or should have been handled. I’ve moved on. I think obviously the organization had intentions of moving on and exercised those intentions and had every right to. I don’t place any blame on anyone or the team as a whole. It was fair for them to do what they did and so now it’s time to move on to, for me, hopefully bigger and better things in terms of what can be accomplished. It was strange circumstances, but I tried to make the most of it and like I said, landing where I landed in Oklahoma City and with this team and with this organization, as best as feeling home can feel for me right now at this point of my career, that’s what I feel right now playing with these guys and being in the locker room with them.”
Q: How much of a mentor you be for Russ and how receptive has he been to the things you’ve told him so far?
Fisher: “Russell is a talent that doesn’t necessarily need me to tell him anything about how to play this game and what to do. At the same time, when you’re part of a team, part of that responsibility is to make contributions not just on the court through your performance but off the court helping teammates, supporting teammates. So for Russell, for Kevin (Durant), for every guy on this team, that’s a big part of why I wanted to go play with these guys, to add my experience and my wisdom, share some stories, remind these guys that I was playing when they were in the fifth grade and sixth grade (laughing). I’ve played a lot of basketball and still have quite a bit of basketball left to be played. I’m looking forward to adding what I can add to a situation that was special before I even arrived.”
Q: Is there a leadership void in the Laker locker room since you left? Have you considered that at all?
Fisher: “No, it’s not my place to speak on that. I never spoke on other teams when I was a member of the Lakers, I didn’t speak on what was going on in other locker rooms with other teams and that’s not my place to do. I’m obviously close with everybody that’s still in there and it would be a disservice for me to start speaking from the outside looking in at this point. I know I was just in there a couple weeks ago, but just like they have responsibilities to their team and what they need to do, I have that responsibility now to the Thunder and that’s solely what I’m focused on at this point.”
Q: The No. 37, is that a message saying experience is divine as you got that number signifying your age?
Fisher: “I don’t know if I’d say it quite how you said it, but I appreciate the effort (laughing). As I stated, it seemed like it came before my name so much, regardless of what I’ve been able to do or help my teams do in the past. That number seemed to be the number that trumped everything regardless of any performance or any success that the team had, that number always came first before my name, so I figured I’d just go ahead and put it out there for everybody to continue to use first, and not just necessarily turn it into a positive, but just having some fun. It was strange because with the Thunder most of all the single digits are gone, a couple double-digit numbers that I like to wear are retired, so 37 just became special because I still believe at my quote-unquote ‘advanced’ age, there are 37 reasons why I can help the team be successful, so that’s what I’m going to try and do.”