KENDRICK PERKINS, THE “WORDSMITH”
Kendrick Perkins is the definition of an overachiever.
Never went to college.
Lots of people don’t, and succeed in life.
Played high school basketball well enough to become a McDonald’s All-American and a Rivals.com five-star recruit.
In 2003, the 6’10” 275 lb. Perkins was considered the #3 center and #6 player in the nation.
He originally had committed to Memphis and Coach Cal, but that didn’t happen.
He made the jump directly to the NBA.
Turned out to be a sage move.
And “Perk” has great sagacity.
He’s as smart as they come.
The thirty-six-year-old native of Nederland, TX had absolutely no business enjoying an NBA career, never mind for fourteen years.
He played in the best league on the planet for fourteen seasons with the Celtics, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and New Orleans.
And while his career numbers were plebeian at best — 5.4 ppg; 5.8 rpg; 1.2 bpg — basketball is a team sport, and it’s safe to say that Perkins was a vital piece of the Celtics teams that won it all in 2008 and lost to the Lakers in the NBA Finals in 2010 (4–3).
He started 78 games in both seasons and averaged a shade over 26 minutes of playing time per game.
In fact, in Game 6 of the 2010 Finals, Perkins injured his knee and missed the rest of that game, and Game 7 too.
Suffice to say, his absence hurt the Celtics badly.
Perk seemed to have a knack for reaching the Finals.
He made it three more times, with Oklahoma City in 2012, and with the Cavaliers in 2015 and 2018, losing on each occasion.
Five Finals in fourteen seasons speaks to his value as a team player, which he has become again today, in the world of broadcasting.
His stock as an NBA analyst on ESPN is rising meteorically.
In assessing the Celtics’ recent trade of Kemba Walker, Perkins gave his stamp of approval on ESPN’s “First Take.”
“Oh, I love it. I see Brad (Stevens) making power moves as soon as he steps foot in the office.
I love it and here’s why.
He’s telling Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, ‘This is your team.’
Now you don’t have to worry about can Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, can they play together?
Who’s going to share the ball? How can you make this work? We don’t have to worry about that.
Bringing back Al Horford was huge.
He’s loved by the Celtics’ fans, he’s respected by the organization, but most importantly, he brings value to that team.
He stretches the floor. He’s a great leader. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum love ‘Big Al.’”
Perk also pontificated about the addition of Moses Brown.
The 21-year-old center has shown a lot of promise in his brief career, including a March 27 game this year against Boston, in which he scored 17 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in the first half.
“Here’s a teaching point to all the young guys out there,” began Perkins “who are on auditioning roles right now in the G League, in the NBA that are trying to get jobs…or trying to stay in the NBA.
Moses Brown played with the Oklahoma City Thunder and he had 21 points and 23 rebounds (against the Celtics).
You know who was coaching at the time?
So he says, ‘You know what? Let me snag this young fella.’
He’s a good center, he’s going to put pressure on Robert Williams to perform.
Rob has a history of being injured.
I love this move by Brad Stevens.
Celtics Nation should be proud.
Beantown, stand up.”
No less an authority than ESPN’s Hannah Storm has playfully dubbed Kendrick Perkins, “our wordsmith.”
While the big fella doesn’t pretend to speak the King’s English, his sharp wit and incisive commentary is piercing.
He knows what he knows.
He knows basketball inside and out.
Watch out for Perk.
Hard to believe that somebody his size could sneak up on you.
But he’s poised to do just that.
And then to break that TV analyst’s door down, smashing it to smithereens.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in June 2021.]