Oklahoma City Thunder players celebrated on Saturday night, following a 92-89 overtime victory against the Memphis Grizzlies, while guard Derek Fisher tied Robert Horry for most career playoff games played in NBA history. Game 5 in Oklahoma City will have the fans primed to see Fisher set the NBA record of games played with 245.
Derek Fisher has seemingly been in the NBA since the beginning of time and has knocked down some of the biggest shots in history. While he has never achieved superstar status like some of his teammates during his 17 year career, it is without question that he will go down as one of the great giant-killers in the history of the league.
The 39-year-old veteran was selected in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, and spent eight years in the purple and gold. Drafted out of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, Fisher, at the age of 22 immediately stepped into a small role for the Lakers, giving the team 11.5 minutes per game and averaging just under four points per contest. His playing time steadily increased over the next few seasons, and Fischer became a dependable back-up point guard for new Lakers coach, Phil Jackson. Alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, Fisher and the Lakers secured dynasty status after winning three straight championships from 1999-2002.
Perhaps Fisher’s biggest shot in his long career came on May 13, 2004 during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. With the Lakers up 74-73, Tim Duncan threw up a near impossible shot, fading away from Shaquille O’Neal at the top of the key and drained a shot with 0.4 seconds left on the clock. Fisher’s number was called on the final play and as he took the inbound pass, he immediately pulled up, falling to his left and fired up the game-winning shot.
Big-time shots and big-time teams have primed Derek Fisher for the NBA record. While his numbers have declined down the stretch of his career his current team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, are one of the front-runners to win the title. If the Thunder can achieve the 2013-14 championship, it will be Fishers sixth title, putting him alongside players like Michael Jordan and Bob Cousy.
Fisher’s career has seen him play with five different teams, including the Lakers and the Thunder twice. In 17 seasons, Fisher has played in 1,287 games, averaged 8.3 ppg, 3.0 assists, and shot just below 40 percent from the field. While his stats have never been eye-popping numbers, it has been his clutch shots and consistent performance as a role player that will leave him well-remembered.
Primed and ready for the record, Derek Fisher will find himself at the top of a list that includes some of the greatest in NBA history, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. In what he says is his last season, Fisher’s solid guard play for the Oklahoma City Thunder will be key if the team looks to move on past Memphis. While the team looks to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as leaders, Fisher’s veteran experience may play a big role in their conquest for the championship.
Commentary by Johnny Caito