It’s like being divorced for seven years, thinking you’re completely over your wife and then running into her at the grocery store just to realize she lost 31 pounds, looks better than ever in a uniform and scowls just as often as she always used to.
Maybe those qualities don’t sound so attractive in a female, but in an NBA center, they’re delightful.
Damn it, I still miss Perk.
A bunch of tidbits from Chris Mannix’s great Sports Illustrated piece:
– Perk saw the trade coming:
“I kind of expected it a little bit,” Perkins said. “Out of the five starters, I was the only one who wasn’t an All-Star. I was coming off an ACL injury and they were winning without me. When I was hurt Shaq and Jermaine [O'Neal], they played well. I think they wondered ‘Is he really that valuable to the team?’ They probably underestimated what I do, the little things that I do, on the court. Not my teammates or the coaches, but ownership, they probably did think it was easy to do what I was doing for the team.”
– Doc Rivers believes that trading Perk allowed other teams (read: the Miami Heat) to gain confidence.
“Removing Perk from our team pulled away some of our armor,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “It allowed other teams see us as vulnerable, that they could beat us. Over the summer I heard from people in Orlando and Miami saying things like ‘Perk’s gone, now we can beat them.’”
– Scott Brooks isn’t surprised that Perkins played hirt last season, and compared him to Charles Oakley. (I can’t wait for Perk’s cooking show.)
“I give Perk a lot of credit,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Not a lot of NBA players would play when they weren’t 100 percent. And he wasn’t. But we needed him. He doesn’t back down from anyone. He’s not interested in making friends with anyone. And Perk is not pseudo tough. I played with the Knicks, with Charles Oakley. He was a tough guy. Perk’s a lot like that. It’s how he is wired. He has to be able to compete that way, bring that toughness. That’s how he survives.”
– Perkins lost 31 pounds this offseason.
“When I saw a picture of him I said ‘Wow, James Harden looks good,’” Rivers said. “I couldn’t believe it was Perk.”
– Don’t tell Perk to split reps at practice.
Last week, with the Thunder immersed in a three-games-in-four-nights stretch, Brooks tried to give Perkins a break by splitting the drills with Nick Collison. Perkins got so angry, Brooks said, “I thought he was going to fight me.”
“Getting him to ease up is like pulling teeth,” Brooks said. “He wants to do everything.”
– And lastly, how can you not still love Perk?
“There’s always going to be a ‘what if’ in me,” Perkins said. “We never lost a playoff series. You wish you could have had a chance to redeem yourself with the team but it’s a business, and it has been good be able to come to another great situation. But the ‘what if’ is always in the back of your mind.”
Perkins says he has thought a lot about how he will be received by the Boston crowd.
“I’m kind of nervous,” Perkins said. “I don’t know what to expect. It’s not like I have been around the league. I came there as an 18-year-old out of high school and was a Celtic for eight years. We went through the good times, the bad times, and the city really embraced me. I got close to a lot of people in that city and it was really hard to leave.
“Going back for the first time, I don’t know what to expect. My approach is I want to win the game, but at the same time it is kind of hard with so many friends on the other side. Can I really be Perk out there? Can I really play my style? [Kevin Garnett] is my mentor. Ray [Allen] and Paul [Pierce] are my friends. Doc, we have a father-son relationship. [Rajon] Rondo, we talk every day. It’s going to be hard.” …
“He’s just masquerading in another uniform,” Rivers said. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s a Celtic for the rest of his life.”
If you’re going to the game, be prepared to offer a standing ovation. He deserves it.