Derek Fisher's absence felt

Derek Fisher's last great accomplishment as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers happened in Memphis just two days before he was dealt out of town at the trade deadline.

Fisher made a 3-pointer in the first quarter in the Lakers' eventual double-overtime victory to push him past 10,000 points for his career.

Only 308 players out of the 4,053 men ever to suit up in an NBA uniform since the league's formation in 1946 have reached the 10K plateau, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Fisher, a 6-foot-1 guard out of Arkansas-Little Rock with a funky looking left-handed jumper, reached a point total that 93 percent of the players ever to play in the league have failed to reach.

"Kobe [Bryant]'s stratosphere is a different stratosphere than mine, but for me, this is 28,000 [points] for me when you consider where I've come from and how far I feel like I've worked to still be in this league this long," Fisher told me after the game as I walked with him to the team bus, me holding my recorder, him holding the game ball under his arm. "To get to this point is just very, very special."

The fact that Fisher's career scoring average of 8.7 points per game ranked 308th out of the 308 players to reach the 10,000-point club -- just six other players out of the 308 had a career scoring average in the single digits -- didn't matter. Fisher made it into the club not by being an elite scorer, but by being unparalleled in his approach and dedication to the game.

"I feel more fortunate than good," Fisher told me, knowing it was tough to boast too much about 10,000 points when his teammate, Bryant, who he entered the league with as Lakers teammates back in 1996, was inching towards 30,000.

Fisher's fortunes with the Lakers would change dramatically just two days later, as he was dealt to Houston in a trade that left his fans and his teammates stunned. After arranging a buyout with the Rockets, Fisher found a new home with the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder and returns to Staples Center for the first time since the trade on Thursday.

In some ways, the Lakers have already moved on. They have a new 25-year-old point guard in Ramon Sessions, and Sessions is averaging 13.3 points and 6.3 assists on 52.8 percent shooting through his first seven games with the team. Fisher, meanwhile, is showing his age not just through his uniform number (37) for the Thunder, but by his meager averages of 3.8 points and 1.0 assists on 22.7 percent shooting for his new team.

Even with the franchise mostly at peace with the decision to not only shed salary in the two trade deadline deals, but also find their point guard of the future in the process, the week leading up to Fisher's return has made El Presidente's absence felt more than ever.

The Lakers' in-game entertainment crew has been busy putting together the Fisher highlight video that will be sure to give as much play to his 2009 Finals Game 4 against Orlando and his 2010 Finals Game 3 against Boston as it does to his impossible 0.4-second shot against San Antonio. Kind of like how "Last Kiss" might have been Pearl Jam's No. 1 selling single, but "Yellow Ledbetter" and "Black" are actually their more lasting songs. Meanwhile, Andrew Bynum has been putting together a greatest-hits reel of his own of stereotypical spoiled-superstar behavior.

Bynum hasn't done anything to become a full-on villain, mind you, but his lack of tact seems more pronounced without Fisher's class in the picture. There was Bynum being benched against Golden State for shooting an ill-advised 3-pointer and then after the game vowing he was only going to shoot more of them. There was Bynum in Houston grabbing the remote to the DVD player before the game and replaying four or five times with great delight the clip of him throwing a pass off Troy Murphy's face in an earlier game against the Rockets. There was Bynum during the game in Houston getting ejected for arguing with the refs and then making a show out of it by high-fiving courtside fans instead of simply heading to the locker room. There has been Bynum blasting music in the locker room before home games in what had always been a kind of serene, focused sanctuary when Fisher was around.

Nobody will ever replace Chick Hearn as the voice of the Lakers, but Fisher's words sure carried a lot of weight around the locker room for the last decade and a half. It makes you wonder if the Lakers traded him too soon. It makes you wonder if Fisher's last great accomplishment with the team was not supposed to be an individual one of hitting the 10,000-point mark, but rather one to benefit the whole team in guiding Bynum during the 24-year-old's journey from role player to superstar. By giving Bynum someone he could emulate by coming to work with the right attitude every day, Fisher could have had an unquantifiable impact on both Bynum's and the franchise's future.

"It's going to be strange," Bryant said about Fisher's return, "him going down to the visitor's locker room."

"It will probably be one of the loudest ovations that the Staples Center has given," added Matt Barnes.

It will be loud in the arena, all right. Fisher will be showered will well-deserved praise from the fans. It could be loud in the home locker room too, if Bynum decides to up the volume on his speakers again.

But Fisher's voice will be missing and so will his quiet, constant message of professionalism amongst all the noise.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.