The crafty veteran has seen it all, which is why his calming influence and leadership has Oklahoma City in its first NBA Finals.
Kup, an aging Autobot in “Transformers: The Movie” (the 1986 animated version, not the Michael Bay blockbusters), isn’t the type of robot you want leading the charge into battle. Derek Fisher can’t lead the charge into battle either.
But you still want Fisher on your team. Fisher is like Kup, a warrior who isn’t fazed by the most intense situations, whether it’s LeBron James in the open floor or Megatron tearing up a city.
This is Fisher’s eighth trip to the NBA Finals. He has already won five rings and has nothing left to prove. When the Los Angeles Lakers traded him at the deadline in March, it surprised many NBA observers.
The Lakers simply weren’t getting enough production from Fisher. At 37 years old, Fisher didn’t have the quickness to keep up with opposing point guards. He was never the type of player to run a traditional point guard role and set up the offense. In 43 games with the Lakers this season, Fisher averaged just 5.9 points per game.
These numbers weren’t what any team needed out of their starting point guard. Not to mention the monster game opposing point guards enjoyed at the Lakers’ expense. L.A. made two separate details to acquire the new (Ramon Sessions) and toss out the old.
The Houston Rockets were to be Fisher’s new home. The Rockets? That team wasn’t going anywhere. Aging NBA players usually look to play for contenders or play for a paycheck. It was never about the money for Fisher. He gave up $3.4 million in order to be waived by the Rockets. Fisher could sign with any team except the Lakers, and, after some thought, the Oklahoma City Thunder became his choice.
Even Kobe Bryant, the stubborn Alpha dog that he is, deferred to Fisher in the locker room and team huddles. Despite being with the Thunder less than three months, Fisher talks the team up during timeouts. OKC’s players have talked about Fisher’s importance even before the Thunder made it to the Finals. Other than Bryant, who else would be the perfect player to pass on his playoff wisdom?
In “Transformers: The Movie,” Kup was the go-to guy for knowledge. He wouldn’t be the first Autobot taken in the draft, no way. Optimus Prime would be the one doing the heavy lifting, the same way Bryant, Pau Gasol and Shaquille O’Neal led the way to Lakers championships.
Kup was the father figure role for Hot Rod, a poor substitute for the fallen Optimus, but hey, somebody had to lead the Autobots. Thanks to guidance from Kup and a variety of adventures in the film, Hot Rod became Rodimus Prime and one of the most criticized Transformers ever.
That’s not to say that Kup was completely helpless. He’s learned a few tricks in his day. After taking out two Decepticons, Hot Rod ribbed Kup.
“Not bad for an old timer,” Hot Rod said.
“Old timer? That’s something you’ll never be if you don’t get back to the city,” Kup fired back as the two robots prepared to retreat from the Decepticon invasion.
Kup could get it done when it counted. Just like Fisher. Yeah, his 8.6 career average isn’t eye opening nor is his modest 6.3 average in this year’s playoffs.
Once upon a time, however, Fisher was a key member of perhaps the greatest playoff team in NBA history. The 2001 Lakers, who still hold the NBA playoff record for the postseason (15-1), got big games from Shaq and Kobe. The No. 3 scorer on that team?
He averaged 13.4 points per game during that incredible postseason run. In the clincher at Philadelphia, Fisher added 18 points.
“Derek Fisher is the modern-day Robert Horry,” TNT analyst Reggie Miller said.
Other than his 0.4 game-winner in San Antonio, Fisher doesn’t nearly have as many heroic shots as Big Shot Rob. But he has been clutch for OKC, knocking down open shots when they’re there. Fisher doesn’t have to set the table for the Thunder since they have so many playmakers in Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden.
D-Fish still wants to play after this season no matter what the outcome of the NBA Finals may bring.
Like Kup, his seen-it-all, done-it-all attitude will help some team looking for championship swagger.
During one of the Autobots’ adventures in “Transformers: The Movie,” Kup said a situation reminded him of the Nitith slave mines on Galganas 7.
“Every place reminds you of some place else,” Hot Rod said.
“Experience, lad,” Kup retorted. “You should learn to appreciate it.”
Fisher has all the experience any modern player could ever have.
OKC appreciates it.