Last night, while the Lakers were busy destroying the Mavs, Derek Fisher made his debut as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder during their domination of the Clippers. D-Fish won’t be rocking #2 in OKC as Thabo Sefolosha already has dibs on that number. Instead the five-time champion is sporting #37 in reference to his age. Some see Fisher’s jersey number of choice as a subtle jab at the Lakers who opted for the younger legs of Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake over his veteran experience.
Since the surprising trade of Fisher there has been no shortage of speculation on how his absence will affect the Lakers locker room. Many wondered whether or not Kobe Bryant would be too sentimental to lead the charge as the Lakers make their playoff push.
Well, in case you haven’t picked up a newspaper in the last decade or so then you might not know the type of competitor Kobe is. Sure, Mamba was saddened to see Fisher go. The two came into the league together back in ’96 and both have been in the trenches together during some epic NBA battle.
But don’t think for a second that means Kobe’s emotions off the court would ever conflict with his business on the court.
When Fisher refused to join the Houston Rockets he claimed that being a part of a title contender was still of the utmost importance, that’s why OKC was a logical landing spot. Now if the Lakers and Thunder cross paths in the playoffs don’t expect any of Bryant’s competitive nature to be reduced at the sight of Fisher.
When asked how he’d handle playing against Fisher, Kobe gave a not-so-polite yet very honest answer.
“Look, we don’t get five championships by being sympathetic towards each other and kissing each other’s [a--] during the game. 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.”
More often than not it’s those of us on the outside that put all the extras on supposed locker room drama. As Bryant said, you don’t get five rings by making nice with the competition no matter who that competition is. Makes no difference who it is that stands in the way of the Lakers hanging another banner. All that matters is that they’re in the way. Kobe won’t think twice. Neither will Fisher.