Kendrick Perkins Brings Grit, Tenacity to Oklahoma City

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:14 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Feb 26, 2011 6:20 PM CDT

Corey DeMoss
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Thunder has been known for its youth and fast-paced play, but always has lacked an intense and fiery big man willing to get his hands dirty under the basket.

With the acquisition of Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder has addressed that issue. Perkins has built a reputation as a tenacious defender and rebounder and has shown a knack for getting in the head of opposing players. In order to do that, he said he makes things personal.

“I pick something about them that I just don’t like,” Perkins said. “It’s petty, but it’s just me; it kind of sticks with me for the whole day. So on game days, if I’m playing against whoever, there’s just something about them I may not like. I may not like the way he walks on the court and just carry that on to the game.”

The Thunder’s need for a bruising big man became obvious last season when it suffered a first-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers dominated OKC on the boards, and the Thunder needed someone like Perkins to compete with Laker big men Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

“He’s a hard worker, and that’s one of the things I love about him,” said Nate Robinson, who came from the Celtics in the same trade with Perkins. “He sets screens, he plays hard, and he’s not taking no crap from nobody.”

Knowing he was brought to Oklahoma City for the sake of a potential showdown with the Lakers, Perkins was prepared to share what he does not like about Gasol: “Everything.”

Perkins was well-liked in the Celtics organization, to the point that several reports have said his former teammates were angry when they learned he had been traded. When asked if he will be able to find something to hate if he has to face his former team - particularly Kevin Garnett - he again was quick to answer.

“I know he’s going to do it to me, and then after the game it’s little,” Perkins said. “But I know once we step on the court he’s going to do it to me, so he’s going to find something that I did to him while we were together. He’s going to do it to me, so I’ve got to do it to him first.”

While Perkins seemed to relish his on-court persona, his off-court personality was vastly different. He spent much of his introduction to Oklahoma City joking with the media, and Robinson said that is par for the course.

“You can tell just by the way he is and looks, he looks kind of mean but he’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” Robinson said.

While Perkins will not see the court for two or three weeks due to a knee injury, he already has begun the process of transitioning from the Celtics’ green to the Thunder’s blue.

“I walked in today and I didn’t have a pair of shoes, so I had my old pair of Celtics shoes,” Perkins said. “They were like, ‘Man, you’ve got to get that out of here.’ So I threw them right in the trash ? Today I don’t want to see any green; Boston is the last thing on my mind.”