One more win. That’s all the Celtics needed to bring home a championship. But Kendrick Perkins couldn’t help them, instead forced to stand on the bench in an oversized suit. That goddamn ACL injury, he must have been thinking as the clock expired on the NBA season. It robbed us of a title.
“I probably won’t ever get over [missing that game],” Perk told Slam Magazine’s Tzvi Twersky in a must-read interview. But don’t think Perk is dwelling on that game and letting it consume him.
“Mentally I’m good, I’m just focusing on this season, and focusing on my rehab and getting back and getting back healthy. Other than that, I really haven’t been worrying about too much more other than just getting on the court and chasing this title.”
Perk has been rehabbing hard, every day, and plans to come back strong.
“It’s getting a whole lot better,” Perk detailed his injury progress. “I’m walking without crutches and a brace, so things are moving along. I’m not rushing anything, but things are moving at a great pace.” So great, he says, that “I’ve got plans on coming back better than I did before.”
Perk continued, “It’s not as bad as everybody thinks. It’s difficult, obviously, but it’s not as bad as people think. If you’re mentally strong, you can get through it.” And Perk is most definitely mentally strong, as we Celtic fans have learned over the years. That mental strength, and its physical counterpart, helps Perk defend Dwight Howard better than anyone else alive, and it also allows Perk to willingly accept a smaller role.
Perk, the smileless wonder, is the offensive lineman of the Boston Celtics. He does all the dirty work. He takes elbows to the face. He does battle with the league’s fiercest beasts. But Perk gets very little shine, very little publicity. He hardly ever touches the ball. He has never made an All-Star team, never made an All-Defensive team. He simply does his job, helps his team win any way he knows how. And he doesn’t mind one bit that he doesn’t get more credit or touches.
“That’s not how our chemistry is,” Perk revealed. “There’s only one goal; so at times you want to get better as an individual, but then there’s times that you’ll be in situations you’ve never been in before. Like, there’s not too many times where you could be on a team that has a chance to win the title. So why not take advantage of it? I feel like stats are overrated, because stats—you could have an impact of the game and not have a huge number of stats. I feel like stats are overrated because—they just are.”
Stats are overrated because they just are, but Perk continues to be underrated. He just is. Yet nobody who follows the Celtics on a daily basis could understate his importance. He is the defensive anchor. He is the menacing presence. He is the enforcer, the monster, the beast. On a Celtics team that prides itself on defensive intensity and complete on-court selflessness, Perk fits perfectly. He has no agenda but winning.
And he wants another title. Badly. He just doesn’t care if he gets his revenge against LA.
“Man, it don’t even matter to me. I just want another shot at the ring, and to just go from there. It don’t matter if it’s the Lakers or whoever it may be.”
Oh yeah, one more thing. Perk admitted to smiling a lot when he’s not playing basketball. “Off the court,” he said, “I’m the coolest person.”
And on the court, ever-present scowl and all, he’ll always be cool by me.
(Note: Read the interview that provided me with all these quotes. Just do it. It has a ton of great stuff, including: 1) Perk would love to be a Celtic forever. 2) Perk says the Celtics have “a lot of guys with chips on their shoulder,” including himself — “I don’t have a choice but to have a chip on my shoulder.” 3) Kevin Garnett has taught Perk “too much. Seriously, man.”)