Random Thoughts on Perk Trade One Year Later

Today is the anniversary of the trade that broke my heart.   I have never hid the fact that I have been one of Kendrick Perkins' biggest fans since is rookie year when few others saw what I did in him.  Back then, it was pretty much the guys at Perkisabeast and I who daily extolled on Perk's virtues.    I wrote many an article about how much I liked Perk  and took a lot of flack on the boards when I said that I felt that one day Perk would be a top center in the league.  Over his 8 years in Boston, I watched him grow up into a championship center with almost the same pride I've watched my own children grow.   

I never thought that Danny would ever trade Perk.  After all, isn't the center position one of the hardest to fill in the NBA?  And the Celtics had one of the best defensive centers in the league on their team.  Yes there was the talk about having to resign him.  He turned down the ridiculous offer of around 4 million a year.  I mean, even crappy centers get way more than that.   And Perk made the comment when he rejected that offer that he'd sign in Boston for $7 million a year.  That would be a bargain for a center of Perk's caliber. Surely, Danny would wait till after the season and then lock Perk up at a bargain price.  There was the talk about his knees.  But anyone who saw Perk transform himself from a pudgy teenager into muscled defensive machine couldn't doubt that he worked hard enough to come back from the injury even better than before.

Then came the trade.   I heard the news and burst into tears.   I was nearly inconsolable for days.  My poor 5 year old grandson,  who loved Perk because Grandma did, also cried right along with me.   After the shock of the trade,  I tried hard to see where Danny had made a good move but as time went on,  I felt even more that Danny made a huge mistake.  The Celtics were in shambles.  They were on top of the NBA when Danny made the trade and began to tumble and never stopped. 

Now a year later,  the Celtics are still struggling.  Both players they got in the trade are not in the league this season.  And, even if Jeff Green returns next season, there is no guarantee that he will sign with the Celtics or that he will be the same player he was before the surgery to repair the heart defect that kept him out this season.   They still haven't found a center to fill that void in the middle.  I can't help but think how differently these past two seasons would have gone if Danny hadn't traded Perk.  And, on the other side,  Perk still misses the Celtics and his teammates with whom he had a very close bond.  But, he's on a great team and in a great situation. 

If Perk had to be traded,  I'm glad it was to the Thunder.  Danny couldn't have picked a better spot for him.   I have to confess that when Perk was traded,  I started to watch the Thunder just to cheer for him to do well.    The more I watched the Thunder,  the more I really, really liked that team.   Now, I watch all the Thunder games just as I do the Celtics games.   They are an exciting young team with players who have good character and who are fun to watch.  Their fans are really great too.  They are fun to chat with and are very down to earth and friendly, just like their team.   I'm still a Celtic fan,  but the Thunder are up there as my second favorite team.  

In my heart, Perk will always be a Celtic. He is one of the hardest workers in the NBA.  When other players came into the season out of shape because of the lockout,  Perk came into the season in the best shape of his career.   I'll always root for the big guy and will always counter anyone who points to the box score or mere numbers to gauge his production.  Perk's production goes way beyond numbers.   Opponents don't get easy tip ins against Perk like they do against the Celtics this season.   Perk may not lead in rebounding, but if you watch him play, his teammates get rebounds because Perk is great at boxing out.  He may not score points, but his teammates are open or have an open lane to the hoop because Perk sets bone shaking screens.  And he anchors a defense that doesn't allow any easy baskets.   Isn't that just the type of player the Celtics need?

I know that many will say that I just need to let it go.  It's done and over.  Yes it is, unfortunately for the Celtics and very fortunately for the Thunder.  I won't ever let it go because Perk is still my favorite player and always will be.  I'll always miss him on the Celtics and will always root for him on the Thunder or wherever he goes.  I can't tell you why Perk made such an impression on me.  Never in over 40 years of following the Celtics have I liked a player to this extent.  Maybe it was his honesty.  Maybe it was his work ethic.  Maybe it was his team first attitude.  Or maybe it was the way he made defense his top priority.  To quote the movie The Air Up There,  I've always thought that "defense is more important that breathing."   And I really like defensive minded players. 

 I think it was a combination of all of those things.  But,  when Perk was traded, it affected me unlike any other trade in all my time watching the Celtics.  One year later, it still affects me.  I miss Perk very much on the Celtics and I think the Celtics miss him too.  Every Celtics game I have watched since the trade I have to think it would be so much different if Perk was still here.   But, it hasn't all been bad.  Without the trade I never would have met the wonderful OKC fans and I wouldn't have realized what a fun team the Thunder are to cheer for.    I miss Perk in green,  but I'm proud to still cheer for him.  Thunder up Big Guy!!!