Johnny Ludden of Yahoo! Sports writes an article today about Kendrick Perkins and the element he brings to the Thunder -- toughness. It's something he Celtics are lacking right now and it's arguably been what's hurt them the most in the last month. Ludden recapped a bit of the Thunder's 120-106 win over the Celtics' biggest rivals, the LA Lakers, and I have to say I felt like I was reading about an ex-girlfriend with another man.
He’d gone toe-to-toe with Kobe Bryant, wrapping him up in a screen then shoving him away after Bryant jawed at him. He’d pushed Andrew Bynum then stood his ground after Bynum threw the ball into his chest. He’d nearly caught Ron Artest with a flailing elbow after Artest had almost done the same to him.
Even though Perkins is wearing blue and orange now, it seems like he still bleeds green. He hasn't been bashful about his deep seeded hate of the Lakers or Miami Heat
“He brings toughness, he brings physical play and he doesn’t like his opponent,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s old-school basketball. He doesn’t like who he plays against, and I like that mentality.”
In just 15 games with Oklahoma City, Perkins has already picked up seven technicals, including one he received against the Lakers. He twice scuffled with Denver Nuggets center Nene in a pair of recent games, and his imprint on the Thunder’s victory over the Lakers was noticeable in spite of his modest stat line: two points, five rebounds, two assists, one block.
I've really resisted blaming the trade for the Celtics struggles but reading everything about the new look Thunder and watching them play with Perk really makes me jealous that they have him. That's probably not a good sign when the Celtics are the one who traded him away. In the article Kobe calls Perk the best low-post defender in the game, which definitely made my stomach churn a bit, and then there's this part:
As they lined up along the lane for a free throw in the closing seconds, Kobe glared at Perkins and sniffed, “You happy with this?”
Perkins stared back. Yes, he told Bryant. We’re happy. We’re happy with every win, he said. Why shouldn’t we be happy?
“Kobe being Kobe,” Perkins said some 30 minutes after the game. He still wore a scowl as he sat in front of his locker. Maybe it’s the old Celtic in him, but there’s something about these Lakers he doesn’t like.
Be yourself, the Thunder said. Perk doesn’t know any other way.
I think I know what the Celtics are missing, and he's wearing a different uniform now.