OKLAHOMA CITY After chasing championships for so many years with the Los Angeles Lakers, Derek Fisher finds himself standing squarely in their way.
Fisher joined the Oklahoma City Thunder after getting traded by the Lakers during the season, choosing to buy out his contract with the Houston Rockets and sign with a team he thought could win the NBA title.
Fisher won five championship rings with the Lakers, but his new team is one victory from knocking Los Angeles out of the playoffs. The Thunder gets its first chance in Game 5 tonight in Oklahoma City.
Fisher has put his friendship with Kobe Bryant on hold during the series. The two greeted each other the first time Fisher came off the bench and checked in during Game 1. Otherwise, they are adversaries in the Western Conference semifinals.
"As much history as we have, there's no holding back in terms of trying to advance to win the championship," Fisher said. "Personal friends or brothers or however close you are to somebody, it's about winning. He knows that better than anybody.
"I learned that and accomplished that right alongside with him, and so we feel the same way."
Fisher played with Los Angeles for 121/2 of his 16 NBA seasons, and the only time he made the playoffs with another team was in 2007 with Utah. But the Jazz didn't face the Lakers.
Los Angeles sent Fisher away at the trade deadline in March, when they added a first-round draft pick, point guard Ramon Sessions and backup forward Jordan Hill to try to improve for the stretch run.
Fisher, 37, chose his age as his jersey number with the Thunder, trying to make a statement that he can still play.
Statistically, Fisher has struggled in the series. He has averaged just over four points and one assist per game, and his playing time has been cut back. Fisher's plus-minus is the worst of any Oklahoma City player, with the Lakers outscoring the Thunder by 12 points while he's on the court.
Yet Thunder coach Scott Brooks believes there's another way to measure the impact of Fisher, who has not put up big numbers averaging 8.6 points and 3.1 assists over his career.
"He loves the game, he has passion for the game, and he's a winner," Brooks said. "You can never have enough of those on your team."
Obituary Bob Boozer, a member of the dominating 1960 U.S. Olympic basketball team who went on to star in the NBA, has died of a brain aneurysm in Omaha, Neb. He was 75.
Boozer was a two-time All-American at Kansas State (1958-59) and played 11 years in the NBA after the Cincinnati Royals drafted him No. 1 overall. The 6-foot-8 forward retired after winning the 1971 NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks.
He played with Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas on the gold-medal-winning 1960 Olympic team and went on to average 14.8 points and 8.1 rebounds for six professional teams.