As a fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and a fan of sports in general, I would like to begin this letter with a heartfelt and resounding thank you to one of the most influential players to have been a part of the still-young Thunder franchise. Derek Fisher, even though you were only a part of the program for a few years, your leadership and poise have helped to bring the program through some tough situations and have worked wonders for a club that needed those elements to bring it along when things weren’t happening the way that the fans and the organization itself might have wanted them to.
When I saw the clock hit zero on that final game in the Western Conference Finals this year against San Antonio, there was a lot of emotion on the court. Many of your fellow teammates wanted to make it to the Finals once again, to face the Heat and finally prove to the world that they could be the best. The entire team fought hard and gave it their all, but I honestly believe that nobody on that court wanted it more than yourself. You had already stated early on that this was going to be your last season and that you wanted to go out on top. You knew what it took not just to win basketball games, but to win championships. After being a part of a wildly successful program in Los Angeles for the bulk of your career, you knew what it took to be the best, and what it was going to take from yourself and your teammates to make that happen. I saw you all season long inspiring greatness in the rest of the team by fighting hard regardless of the score or the game situation, making plays and hustling from one end of the court to the other, sharing the ball, shooting well, and playing smart, tough defense. Your play should serve as a model for anyone that wants to play the game of basketball correctly.
As I saw you walk off the court for the last time, I saw the hurt in your face. You wanted it so bad. You wanted another ring. Not for yourself, but for those around you. For your team. For the city. For the state of Oklahoma. Again, after only being in Oklahoma City for a short amount of time, you still developed a connection to the state of Oklahoma, the City, and to the members of the Thunder roster that transcended basketball. You were there during a time of extreme hardship that wracked the state when tornadoes tore through the city of Moore and cost the lives of many and left thousands of citizens displaced and broken. You, along with many other members of the Thunder, were constantly present on the ground in Moore lending a hand in cleanup, morale boosting, and many other facets of the relief efforts. You poured yourself into the city and to the team, making your presence heard and felt wherever you went. You were a true team player, and an outstanding individual. I for one am glad that I got to see you play in a Thunder uniform.
Having being born in Oklahoma City, it’s awesome to finally have a professional team to represent the state that I call home. The city loves the Thunder, and the Thunder return the favor. I hate that you was unable to do what you wanted in your final season, but you should know that you did so much more than you could ever imagine for Oklahoma City. We are now known for the Thunder more than we are known for the horrible events of April 19, 1995. The Thunder have helped to redefine a city that was recognized for a heinous act of terrorism for so long, and you were an integral part in making that happen. We thank you for that.
As you move on to coach the Knicks, I can only wish you the best of luck. I hope that you do well and that the Knicks begin to regain their status as a serious contender for the Eastern Conference title, and I have no doubt that you will lead that team to at least one Conference championship series within the next 5 years purely because of the effect that your presence can have on a locker room and on a team while they’re playing. You know the game and you know how to lead a team to victory.
So, Derek Fisher, congratulations on a more than illustrious career as a player, and I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors as a coach in the NBA. Myself, on behalf of the entire state of Oklahoma, thank you once again for what you have done for us.