It's no secret that I am one of Kendrick Perkins' biggest fans. There are a lot of Perk fans out there now but, back in his first year, I got a lot of flack when I would tell people that Perk was going to be a great center. Back in his first and second seasons, I just grew to love Perk. His humility and work ethic won me over and I've just become a bigger fan every season. It broke my heart to see him go down in game 6 of the Finals. Of course, it hurt to see him go down because I knew the Celtics needed him, but also because I knew that this season is a contract year for him. I'm hoping that Danny knows how important Perk is to the team and gives him a good contract in spite of the injury. I just came across an interview with Perk from the guys at Slam Online and after reading it I have to say that you just have to love this guy. I wanted to share a few quotes from the interview here.
On his rehab:
SLAM: I’ve been good, man. How you feeling right now? How’s the rehab going?
KP: It’s going great, man. I’m going to rehab everyday. It’s getting a whole lot better. I’m walking without crutches and a brace, so things are moving along. I’m not rushing anything, but things are moving at a great pace.
On improving his game:
SLAM: What areas of your game do you still want to improve?
KP: Well, I still wanna get better with my footwork, my speed, my quickness, my athleticism. You know, I’m not an athlete or nothing like that, but you know obviously you wanna get better at weakness that you have, whatever they may be. So if you always got a right-hand hook, you wanna get a left-hand hook. You know, so I’m trying to work on my left hand, doing everything left-handing. Driving left-handed. Doing everything pretty much left handed, because I want it to get just as good as my right hand.
SLAM: Do you think you’ve matured since you’ve been in the League? When you came in you were real young, and now you’re a savvy vet.
KP: Well I think I can get better. I try to get better each year. I think that’s what you gotta do in the NBA—get better each year. So I try to work on my game each year and improve, and just keep tryin’ to get better. I mean I feel like I’ve learned a lot, I still got a lot to learn, and I just try to keep picking up. With Shaq on the team, you pick up some things from him.
On being overshadowed by the stars on the team:
SLAM: When Tony Allen left the team, he said he kind of felt overshadowed by some of the other stars on the team.Do you ever feel that way?
KP: Nah. I feel like without them, we wouldn’t be in the position that we are in right now. Without the Big Three forming, we wouldn’t get the TV pub that you get, and everything else you get. So it’s kind of hard to say, “overshadowing.” You’re really supposed to be kinda grateful to be in that situation.
SLAM: But do you ever wish that you got more touches or more love?
KP: Nah, not really. That’s not how our chemistry is. You’ve been in our locker room, you know how we role. There’s only one goal; so at times you want to get better as an individual, but then there’s times that you’ll be in situations you’ve never been in before. Like, there’s not too many times where you could be on a team that has a chance to win the title. So why not take advantage of it? I feel like stats are overrated, because stats—you could have an impact of the game and not have a huge number of stats. I feel like stats are overrated because—they just are.
On his constant scowl on the court:
SLAM: People are also always talking about—and this was a big thing in the playoffs—how you scowl on the court. I just wanted to note for the record: You smile a lot. Do you want to tell people why you don’t smile during games?
KP: Man, because, first of all, this is how I feed my family. This is my job. So every time I get on the court, it’s all business. And then, you got a psychopath like KG right on the side of you, so that’s just added fuel to the fire. (Laughs).
Off the court I’m the coolest person.
And on this upcoming season:
SLAM: So you think it’ll be a little different this coming season?
KP: Well, I mean, we didn’t do nothing spectacular. We got Shaq, we got Delonte [West], we got J.O. [Jermaine O’Neal]. But it ain’t like we signed no young Dwight Howards or anything like that. So if anything we just got older. But we still got a lot of talent. So we got older but we got a lot of talent and a lot of experience, so that’s gonna help us a lot. And a lot of guys with chips on their shoulder, so that’s what’s gonna really help.
SLAM: What about you? When you come back, you gonna have a chip?
KP: I don’t have a choice. I don’t have a choice but to have a chip on my shoulder.
SLAM: What do you want most this coming June? Another shot at the Lakers?
KP: Man, it don’t even matter to me. I just want another shot at the ring, and to just go from there. It don’t matter if it’s the Lakers or whoever it may be. But we love the challenge, because we know there’s not an easy way to get to the Finals. But we want it.
This is a great interview and you can read the whole thing here. Perk wants to be a Celtic for life and I'm right there wanting the same thing. Anyone who talks about trading Perk just doesn't realize what the Celtics have in this guy. He has one of the best work ethics in the league and he has come back better each season he has been in the league. His stats have improved every year, but as Perk himself says, stats are overrated. They just don't tell the whole story about what Perk contributes.
Without Perk, we don't get past Dwight Howard. The Magic are very successful because teams have to double him and that leaves a shooter open. Perk is one of the few centers who successfully guard Howard with single coverage. Perk also may not get the most rebounds on the team, but he is one of the best at boxing out to allow his teammates to grab the rebounds. He may not score a lot of points, but he is one of the best at setting screens to allow his teammates to get open shots. Perk's importance to this team can be seen most in the games he doesn't play. In the Finals in both 2008 and 2010, the Lakers' bigs were ineffective in the games that Perk played. But in game 5 in 2008 and in games 6 and 7 in 2010, Gasol and Odom came up big. Perk's defense may be one of the most underrated parts of the Celtics success over the past 3 seasons.
With Perk's work ethic, it's no surprise that his rehab is going well and I fully expect him to come back better than ever when he is cleared to play again. I just hope that Danny realizes what he has and rewards him with a contract that will allow the big guy to stay a Celtic for a long, long time.