NBA / Aug 2, 2010 / 12:00 pm

Dime Q&A: Kendrick Perkins on rehab, referees and new rivals in Miami

Courtesy. Kendrick Perkins/EAG Sports Management

Kendrick Perkins isn’t angry right now. The Boston Celtics 25-year-old starting center, one of the NBA’s leaders in technical fouls and known for his signature scowl as much as he is for his game (10.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg), is even in a good mood considering he’s facing a long rehab following surgery to repair a torn ACL.

The last time we saw Perk, he was watching the Celtics lose Game Seven of the NBA Finals from the bench, wearing street clothes after sustaining the knee injury in Game Six. Splitting the offseason between Boston and his native Beaumont, Texas, Perkins talked recently about his expected return time, the way he treats refs, and the new powerhouse squad in Miami.

*** *** ***

Dime: How’s the knee?
Kendrick Perkins: Oh man, it’s been going great. Surgery went extremely well, so I’m just rehabbing, trying to take it day by day, one day at a time and go from there. Right now I’m doing better than I expected. The doctors said I’m ahead of schedule, so I should be back my mid-February.

Dime: When you first got hurt, did you know it was serious?
KP: When it happened, I knew it was serious because I heard something pop. I couldn’t get up on my own. I was hoping it was something else, but unfortunately it was a torn ACL. I had to watch Game Seven from the sideline. Game Six and Game Seven, those were the worst moments of my life.

Dime: You had to miss most of Game Five in the Orlando series after getting ejected. Is not being able to play in that situation the same feeling as not playing because you’re hurt?
KP: It’s only different because, when you get ejected, you know you can play the next game. I knew I couldn’t play the next game being hurt, and you know, it was Game Seven. Against Orlando we had another day to breathe. In the Finals, there wasn’t no tomorrow. This was for all the marbles and I couldn’t be a part of it.

Dime: What’s your game plan for rehabbing this summer?
KP: I’m spending most of the time here in Boston so I can take care of that situation. Sometimes I’ll go back to Beaumont (Texas), but mostly I wanna be in Boston. I’ve never hurt anything in my knee like this since I’ve been playing. The rehab, it’s a beast. It’s hard. I’m almost walking on my own without a brace, so it’s cool.

Dime: What else do you have going on this summer?
KP: I have my camp in Beaumont next weekend. I got a lot of NBA people coming through: Sam Cassell, Rondo, Nate Robinson, Tony Allen, Lester Hudson, Stephen Jackson … they’re all coming down to talk to the kids and show them the ropes about playing ball. I’m pretty excited to be doing something for my community. It’s pretty cool. And all the money is going to women and children’s shelters.

Dime: You’re one of the high school-to-NBA success stories that people often forget to mention. What’s your view on the NBA age limit and of high schoolers going pro?
KP: I feel like personally, if you’re ready to come out as an 18-year-old in high school, you could come out. You can get a job at 18. Some guys that came out haven’t been successful, but it goes up and down. I think overall the ratio is high for guys staying in the League after coming out of high school. I don’t see a problem with it. Some guys just don’t wanna go to college, so now they’ll go overseas, then come back to the NBA. It’s not about how you get to the NBA, it’s if you get to the NBA.

Dime: What’s the hardest part of making that adjustment to being a pro that young?
KP: The biggest part is leaving the life alone and concentrating on basketball. Once you can grow apart from the NBA lifestyle outside the court and just focus on hooping, you’ll be alright. That was the biggest adjustment for me.

Dime: Rajon Rondo was in the news the other day saying you guys aren’t worried about Miami even though they have LeBron and Chris Bosh now. What’s your take?
KP: I mean, they have a pretty good team on paper with LeBron, Bosh and D-Wade. But at the end of the day, anything can happen in the playoffs. We proved that this year; we were 17-17 down the stretch and guys counted us out, but we already knew no team wanted to see us in a seven-game series. We felt that way, we believed in ourselves and the coaches believed in us.

It’s gonna be a hard challenge for (Miami). It’s easy to get all those guys on one team, but to vibe in the same system is another thing. Who’s gonna make the extra pass? Who’s gonna make the defensive plays? This is a grown-man’s league, and other teams are getting better, too. So you know that night in and night out, guys are gonna attack them.

Dime: You have to go into games every night facing Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan — the best big men in the League. How do you prepare yourself mentally for that?
KP: You just gotta be focused. You want to be prepared and know your matchup, but at the same time you can’t really go into a game worrying about who you’ve gotta play. I have to feel like I’m the best player at my position whenever I go out on the court. The NBA is all about confidence. If you have a lot of confidence from within, you can succeed.

Dime: You might have the coldest mean-mug in the League. Do you listen to music or anything to get yourself psyched up like that?
KP: (Laughs) Man, but the time I wake up from my nap — actually, from the time we have shootaround — I’m just focused on the game. I have my game face on from the time I walk into the gym. I’m always jamming my music: I listen to UGK, that helps a lot.

Dime: Do you ever tell yourself that you need to calm down and not go off on the refs so much?
KP: That’s just me. That’s my tenacity, what I bring to the team. Yeah, I can lay off the refs a little bit, but that’s been me all my life. I can’t change it.

Dime: How is the locker room atmosphere with the Celtics?
KP: Oh man, it’s great. I always say we need our own reality show, but you’ve have to bleep out and edit too much stuff. It’s funny. Every day I look forward to going to work with the guys on our team.

Dime: Tony Allen said there’s always a fight over the music in the weight room.
KP: All the time. It’s always a big misunderstanding. Tony would wanna play Gucci Mane, Nate always has a variety, and KG wants to play the same song 40 times in a row. But KG ends up ruling at the end, because he’s got the most years in the League.

Dime: What are you into off the court?
KP: I’m from Texas, so you know I enjoy stuff like fishing, cookouts with the family, stuff like that. I’m just a chill, laid-back dude. I like to play cards every now and then, dominoes. Just whatever.

Dime: Who’s the best card player on the Celtics?
KP: I’m one of ‘em. Ray Allen is actually a good one. Paul (Pierce) is an OK card player. KG, he’s OK; he’s average. Rondo is a pretty good card player, too. We play cards all the time. Poker some days, maybe spades, it all depends.

Dime: So how does the team look for next season?
KP: We’re gonna come back ready. KG is coming back in the best shape he’s ever been in. We got Jermaine O’Neal. Paul is coming back as a premier player in the League. Ray is gonna be Ray all the time. Rondo is gonna keep it up, keep it going.

Dime: Any predictions?
KP: Nah, I don’t wanna do that.

Dime: OK.
KP: Actually, yeah, I will make a prediction. We’re gonna win.

Dime: The whole thing?
KP: We’re gonna win.

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  • fallinup

    ACL injuries be a BITCH. Get better Perk.

    I’m sure anyone outside of LA would agree that the outcome of the Finals could have been much much different with Perk in the lineup for those last couple games. But that’s how the chips fall.

  • Gottasay

    I have to say Perk is a beast and yeah the finals could’ve ended different if he played.All part of the game , the Lakers wore em out and he got injured. Ish happens. I can’t stand how much dude cries though, he is the guy at the 3 on 3 tournament (call your own fouls) who can’t be stopped down low one on one and when he misses he calls foul everytime. Almost like he thinks he is too good to miss unless he was fouled.Anyways I hate to see any player get hurt even players i can’t stand.So that being said I hope to see a healthy Perkins throughout the reg season and playoffs. Damn Rondo’s gonna eat those words!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Celts Fan

    Tony Allen always wanted to bump Gucci Mane? Why am I not surprised. Good riddance

  • Joe’s Momma

    Too bad dude got hurt when he did.

    But LA was dominating the glass when Perk was IN THE GAME. Why would you think that would change in a game 7?

    Boston’s biggest problem was they could not score in the half court. Perkins wasn’t going to help in that department. And they had 4 team fouls after 4 mins into the 4th quarter. Free throws all day, that is where the chip was won, at the free throw line, defensively, and on the glass.

    Now Boston got this crutch saying “oh, our starting 5 didn’t play” yada yada.

    LA fans didn’t say that in 08. We got beat. Simply put, but the last 2 chips belong to LA. Going for 3, no matter who is standing in the way

    And Perkins does cry way too much. KG’s influence, but at least KG got some clout with the refs.

  • Mr.Tko

    Personally I feel that Rasheed starting Hurt LA more than Perkins starting would have. He presented a mismatch and actual offense from the Center position. I really don’t see the outcome being too different honestly.

  • fLaVa

    i am actually pretty shocked Perk is only 25… hes got some years on him and that mug of his does not say hes 25… or is it just me??

  • K Dizzle

    “but we already knew no team wanted to see us in a seven-game series”

    Truer words were never spoken. I can see Boston ruinin the Lakers-Heat matchup everyone wants…..and I’m ok wit that lol

  • Celts Fan

    @Joe’s Mamma – maybe you didn’t, but Lakers fans were on here b(tching all year about, “If we only had Bynum…” and completely ignoring that your supposedly-genius coach decided it was a great idea to start Vlad and put him on our best all-around scorer.

    @Mr. TKO – I agree completely. Sheed was one of the only guys that was scoring in the first half. Not having big man depth def hurt us, but if you start Perk, then Sheed doesn’t get his like that and maybe we don’t get killed on the boards but score even less.

  • srb

    Joe’s Momma, there were a lot of LA fans two years ago claiming they would have won with Bynum. I haven’t seen a lot of people saying that about Perkins, that could be fore two reasons though. One, because I disappeared into self pity for many days after game 7 and did zero blog reading. Two, because I’m a Celtics fan and wouldn’t have any negative reaction to people claiming that Perkins would have made a difference.

    Just realize that many people said Bynum would have made the difference for the Lakers, even though you claim nobody was saying that.

  • Joe’s Momma

    At the last two above, Okay, I will concede that there were some dumbass Laker Fans saying that about Bynum. But I really don’t think he would have made a big enough difference to win it. I would say Ariza would have made a bigger impact with his defense.

    Bynum was having a break out season, but how they beat up Pau was where the Celts won, and Odom didn’t do anything to try to help him out. Pau has since grown, Bynum was still very raw then. Defensively he was weak, passing was non-existent, and a black hole on offense.

    I just don’t think Perkins was the missing peice to the Celtics winning it in 2010. A completely healthy Sheed would be more convincing. Dude played with a bad back and never complained. A true G

    @Celts Fan

    LA had no choice to have Vlade on Pierce. He wasn’t going to guard anyone else in that line-up. Having Vlade on Pierce limited his post ups, but he got burned nasty though. LA had 0 wing defenders other than Kobe, Ariza was coming off an injury and was not in any shape to play in the finals, as evidence when he couldn’t stay with Pierce.

  • AZ

    Well perk was hurt but so was bynum…..what ifs. what ifs. Ill take a healthy bynum over healthy perk anyday…Better team still won.

  • Joe’s Momma

    A question to Celtics fans.

    Did you hear Doc Rivers saying that after the Finals loss, his team is still undefeated in a playoff series with their normal starting 5?

    He is doing damage control, but that quote really struck me the wrong way. How do you feel about that? Is he right?
    Perkins missed 1 game, albeit the deciding game, but he only missed 1 out of 7.

    If he is using that criteria, then a bunch of other series should not count. The 1st round Miami series shouldn’t as KG was suspended 1 game, at least 1 or 2 of the 2008 series shouldn’t count because of injuries.

    So taking that into account, the celtics starting 5 is like 4-0 over 3 years.

    I don’t really care about what Rivers said, but I took it as he is trying to say LA didn’t win it, but Boston lost it with their injuries.

  • Celts Fan

    @Joe’s Mamma – I just ignored it. I don’t do excuses. We prob woulda beat Orlando in ’09 had KG been healthy, but he wasn’t. We may not have won in ’08 had Ariza been healthy (screw Bynum, it was Ariza instead of Vlad that coulda made a difference there.) You play the hand you’re dealt…

  • Big Island

    I always say I hate Perk but wouldn’t if he were on a team I liked. This article makes it even worse to have to hate him. It pains me to dislike the guy.

    And yeah, if he would’ve been able to go, I think the C’s would be the champs.

  • one and done

    As a fan of neither the Lakers or Celtics I can say this, the argument that the Celtics would have won with a healthy Perkins holds more water than the Lakers would have won with Bynum in 2008. In 2008, Bynum was gone for a big chunk of the season and missed the entire playoffs. In 2010, Perkins tore his knee and missed a game 7 where they got outrebounded by a buttload and lost by 4 points, big difference. The Celtics played a part in their own loss though. If Rondo could hit a midrange shot and if Allen hadn’t blown his wad after game 2, they still might have won.

  • one and done

    ….so, Celtics would have won in 09 with KG = Lakers would have won in 08 with Bynum

  • sh!tfaced

    Who the hell cares. What if this, what if that… What’s done is done. Great interview, AB… Didn’t really know a player such as Perk can be a fun talk like that…

  • Stunnaboy09

    I fucking hate excuses, part of the NBA is adjustment to injuries. Sure they suck but thats what makes it fun to follow and watch. Thats like me saying T-Mac would have been top 15 of all time if he stayed healthy or ORL wins a chip if Hills ankles dont fall apart.

  • Refs suck

    It wasn’t the loss of Perk that hurt the C’s in game 7. It was that the LA Fakers shot 20 more Free Throws than the Celts. Way to lopsided. The chip should go to the LA friendly Refs.

  • richard

    Yes KP has the baddest piss on you ref expression in the NBA but it is more honest than Miami’a 3 stooges

  • Celts Fan

    @Refs Suck – there were some dubious calls early in the 4th, but otherwise, they shot more FTs cuz they were more aggressive. Also, don’t forget that we intentionally fouled at the end of the game, inflating that #. The refs didn’t cost us the game. They missed maybe 5-10 calls all game, which is what you’re gonna get in an average game. If we’d hit a shot in the late 3rd, if Rondo had a J, if Sheed had a workout… all those ifs made a much bigger difference than some ill-timed missed calls by the refs in what was, for the most part, a well officiated game. Watch the replay if you can stomach it (I can’t. Never will, but I saw this all game) Most of the fouls on us were legit fouls. The FT disparity never came during the game amongst me and 4 other diehards. There were a few bad calls throughout the game, sure, that’ll happen in a fast-paced game w/ relatively subjective calls, but nothing overly aggregious like earlier in the series. We lost cuz we didn’t put a bigger gap between us when we had that 13 pt lead in the 3rd, not cuz of no fucking refs. If you agree with 6 of the 24 opinions I just gave I’m MVP of this post…

  • Stunnaboy09

    @Celts Fan

    6/24 times you make that statement a new LA fan is born…

  • Joe’s Momma

    Damn, we went on a crazy tangent during these comments.

    No B.S., Perkins is a legit starting Center in this game, and there are few of those in the L. Plays tough D, rebounds, blocks shots. He has improved his post game, and it is light years ahead of Dwight Howards, but if he can become a reliable 12-15 point scorer on the block, dude is a near max money guy. Celtics really got lucky they locked in both Rondo and Perkins at low prices for the next few years.

    I hate him on the court, but I respect the way goes out and plays.

    This guy is huge, but standing next to Shaq he looked like a PF

  • Classless

    JoeMomma,

    Actually you Faker fans did use the “if we only had Bynum” excuse for the last 2 years. I will concede that Perk probably would not have mattered in Game 7. But you idiot Faker fans need to realize Bynum would not have made one iota of difference in the 131-92 evisceration you suffered in 2008.

  • Celts Fan

    @Joe’s Mamma – dude’s a legit starter, ya, but he’ll never be near a max guy. He’s a d@mn good defensive center and a below average one offensively. I’d say he’s worth $10M per on the open market when healthy. Luckily for the C’s, his deal is up after this year. Hopefully Danny can leverage his knee and the upcoming lockout to get him to sign another cheap extension (bump it up to like $7 or $8M per w/ a bum knee and he’s gotta accept, right?)

  • Joe’s Momma

    @ classless, yea some fans did use that as an excuse, but not me. A real Laker fan. I aint a Kobe fan, I aint a championship team fan, I am a Laker fan. Like Celts Fan said about himself, I am a no excuses type fan. Why you coming spewing hate when a Lakers fan and a Celtics fan are being corgial to one another? Your handle on spot on, classless.

    @ Celts Fan, man I didn’t know Perk’s deal is up. I don’t know if he will sign for cheap this time though, Ainge got him to take a 4 mil a year deal telling him that Centers at 25 years can get that big money deal in their prime. But that knee will be an issue for sure. I think if they came with a fair deal, like 40 over 5 yrs he might take it. Brendan Haywood got 55 over 5, his agent might use that as a jump off point. And I would take Perk over Haywood 10 times out of 10

  • Joe’s Momma

    Haywoods deal is actually 55 over 6

  • Rondo fan

    I think perk could have helped big time to clean the glass. then Gasol won’t have made all those ridiculous put backs. that COULD have hold the C’s D together and win them the game.

    btw Rondo isn’t cheap anymore after the extension.

    What’s a lakers fan doing here…beats me