Fisher Spends Time with Eastlake Elementary on Book Bus

Derek Fisher has plenty of kids of his own, so it was not the least bit surprising that he was a natural when it came to helping out on the Rolling Thunder Book Bus on Thursday afternoon at Eastlake Elementary School in Moore. As a newcomer to the Thunder this season, Fisher was extra excited to get out into the Oklahoma City community and get to meet the youngest generation of his new fans.

“That’s an important part of playing in any city, making sure you show the proper respect to the community and to the fans that support you,” Fisher said. “I think it’s still important to get out into the community and let the people know that I’m excited to be here and thankful to be here. Anytime you get a chance to spend time with kids is always a good time.”

Fisher sat on the floor of the Thunder-themed bus helping the children select some new reading material, and elicited an, “Oh my gosh, that’s Derek Fisher” from a young girl named Lindsie. While the students were clearly excited to have a Thunder player join them, it was uncanny to Fisher at how intent the kids were on finding the book that was right for them. From Goosebumps to Junie B. Jones to Superfudge, the Eastlake Elementary students found exactly what they were looking for.

“I think the best part about it was that they were excited to see a Thunder player, but they bee-lined right for the books,” Fisher said. “They were excited about getting on the bus and picking out a book and that was cool… Books, no matter how many years go by, they still serve the same purpose just opening up the imagination of a child.”

A smile ran across Fisher’s face as he recognized many of the books from both his childhood and from raising his own children, trying to get students to pick classics like James and the Giant Peach. It was a testament to the kids’ excitement about learning that they spent less time in awe of the Thunder-themed bus and the player inside than the free book they were set to receive. Fourth grade teacher Stacey Gillen was impressed by her students and was pleased that the Thunder was able to help increase the school’s ability to enhance the children’s bookcases.

“That just shows you their exposure to reading,” Gillen said. “They understand the importance in reading today in their lives and in their lives growing up. I think it’s great to see the players in the community and involved. It just shows them that they’re going to continue reading throughout their lives.”

The 75 students that had the chance to step on the bus added to the tally of over 50,000 books that the Rolling Thunder Book Bus has been able to donate to children at over 620 schools, thanks to American Fidelity Assurance Company. Having a Thunder player like Fisher on board was clearly an added bonus to the day, as he joked and chatted with the kids throughout the afternoon. To Gillen, it was particularly meaningful to know that Fisher and the Thunder organization would take time out to come to the school only two days before their first playoff game of the season.

“We know that they’re under a tremendous amount of pressure and work right now in getting prepared and getting ready,” Gillen said. “So we’re just so thrilled that they would take the time to come out and speak to the kids. It just shows their involvement in the community and shows how they value the students and their place in the community. So we’re just thrilled that they took the time to do that.”

One thing that stood out at this Book Bus event was the amount of Thunder gear that every student was decked out in. It seems like it’s not only Head Coach Scott Brooks and his crew that are gearing up for the NBA Playoffs and getting into the Thunder spirit. That symbiotic relationship between the Thunder and Oklahoma City is palpable, and that connection hasn’t been lost on Fisher since he arrived.

“I don’t think there is any question about the affection for one another in terms of the Thunder team and the Oklahoma City community,” Fisher said. “The relationship is one of mutual respect and admiration and you really can’t have one without the other and that’s something I’ve learned very quickly in my time here. I’m looking forward to the playoffs getting started this weekend to continue that loving relationship.”