Derek Fisher did eventually sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder this week, and he even went so far as making his Thunder debut. Wearing number 37. Which wouldn’t be too weird if he was playing Corner Back for Dallas Cowboys, but kinda is if you’re playing PG in the NBA. Metta World Peace would obviously disagree with that, however, as well as Baron Davis, and a few others, but that’s besides the point.
The point is, Derek Fisher picked 37 because he is 37 years-old, and he’s essentially inferring that he was removed from his position with the Lakers based on age discrimination. Not because he was simply playing bad this year, after an extremely successful career of 16 seasons and 5 NBA Titles of course, but because his age was viewed as a negative. So this jersey number, he says, is like a statement of some kind in support of 37-year olds everywhere and the rights they have too.
The Lakers wanted to bring in a new, younger point guard and Fisher, at age 37, was seen as too old and too slow to take them to where they needed to be. Which is one reason Fisher decided to choose the odd number of 37 for his time spent in OKC.
“There are a number of reasons why this opportunity presented itself, being able to join the Thunder, [my age] seemed to be a negative thing for so long, especially this season,” he said after his debut with the Thunder. “It was a negative thing I was 37. So I just wanted to send the message that the Thunder organization and I see it as a positive. That I’m still a guy that can help a team be successful and compete for a championship even at the age of 37.
“I figured since everybody likes to throw my age around in negative conversations, I’d just going ahead put it out there and let everybody know from the beginning, I am 37, but I think I can do some great things to help this team.”
What that was, was a not-so-veiled jab at the Lakers. It’s not hard to read between the lines. The Lakers thought he was old, so they let him go. And Fisher knows it, so he decided to proudly slap his age on his back for the world to see. It’s his scarlet letter. It’s not a chip on his shoulder; it’s a chip on his back.
Whatever it takes to fire you up I guess, I have no problem with that, but let’s not pretend that the Lakers wanted to dump him just because he’s old. He’s not good either, at least not good in the role as a starting PG in the NBA. In this OKC situation though, I think this is perfect. Derek Fisher has been where these guys are trying to go. Russell Westbrook is a young player better served by heeding the advice of Derek Fisher, and D-Fish can come in and play 12 to 15 minutes of a effective basketball per night for you backing-up Westbrook. But not the 30+ minutes the Lakers need a starting point guard – of any age – to be able to play.