Kendrick Perkins caught a pass from Ray Allen, with nobody between himself and the basket. Naturally, Perk brought the basketball down to his knees before releasing his layup. He made the layup (and even got an and-one), but there was no need for Perk to bring the ball so low.
On most nights Perk’s worst habit would piss me off. Why not just keep the ball high, Perk? You’re damn near seven feet tall! You don’t need to scrape the ball to the floor before every easy layup! But tonight? Perk’s habit brought a smile across my face — I was kind of like the homesick boy who sees his annoying older sister for the first time in a full year. Even if I sometimes hate my sister, seeing her means I’m home. Seeing her means I don’t have to be homesick anymore.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this:
Perk made his return during tonight’s 112-95 win (“no kidding, Jay”), and he didn’t look half bad. Though his game shape is still a work in progress (Perk was clearly gassed after a few trips down the floor), his physique looks great. He still knows how to play defense, he still works hard as hell, and he’s still a physical presence to contend with. He still scowls like his dog just pissed on his most expensive carpet, and he still sets screens that permanently teeter on the edge of legality.
He’s the same guy we remember, and it’s never felt so good to see him on the court. If you told me this summer that Perkins would return on January 25th looking so svelte, so mobile and so, well, Perk-ish, I would have grabbed you by the cheeks and kissed you straight on the lips. For his next trick , Perk has to keep himself from doing two things: muttering the term “foot” a dozen times in a press conference, and losing to the New York Jets in the playoffs — because Perk’s quick return is positively Welker-ian.
I went to the gym today, trying to get my fat ass back into shape. When I checked my cell phone after my workout, I discovered that Perk had been given the go-ahead to play tonight. After almost passing out right in my gym, I hopped up and down. A couple old fogies looked at me like I had two heads, but I didn’t care. The O’Neal brothers have both revealed bodies of glass this season, and it’s more clear than ever that the Celtics need Perk. To have him back so soon, before February, is beyond my wildest dreams. And to see him play tonight, and to see how he still looked so much like the Perk I remember, was spectacularly fabulous.
I’m not sure how long it will take before Perk’s “bringing the ball to his knees when he doesn’t have to” move starts to piss me off again. For now, I’m just happy to have the big fella back.
Perk dusted the hard hat off tonight, looking closer to full strength than I ever would have expected. And the Celtics inched one step closer to that unattainable utopia — full health.