BOSTON — There will be tons of emotions on display during pre-game introductions tonight.
Kendrick Perkins will make his first appearance in TD Garden since the Boston Celtics traded him to the Thunder 11 months ago. When he’s announced as the Thunder’s starting center, Perkins likely will receive a long and heartfelt ovation from the Celtics faithful. For 7 1/2 seasons, Perkins gave his heart and soul to the Boston franchise, and now this is the fans’ chance to express their gratitude.
It’s been extremely well-documented how tough the trade was on the Celtics.
Now, Boston will welcome back a one-time favorite who helped the Cs win a title in 2008. Perk has said he will have mixed emotions tonight. Players and coaches have spent the past two days opining about Perk’s return. Celtics coach Doc Rivers delivered the strongest sentiments.
That will be different, because Perk’s a Celtic. I don’t give a crap what uniform he has on — he’s a Celtic for life, and he knows that.”
Kevin Garnett, who is known as one of the league’s most intense players, also admitted tonight’s game will be gut-wrenching.
It should be emotional. It should be fun to see the big fella come in. Perk’s like my little brother. We speak quite frequently, to be honest. When he went out there, we spoke every day. I know he and Rondo speak damn near on the hour…Perk and I used to butt heads pretty hard, and it was very, very competitive. But when I got here, we embraced and became brothers like everybody in here. That’s a connection for life, and like Doc said, he’ll be a Celtic for life and he knows that. That’s in his heart. He may be in OKC, but in his heart he’s a C.”
Paul Pierce, who was Perk’s teammate the longest as the most tenured current Celtics player, watched Perk mature from an 18-year-old kid out of high school into a 26-year-old man, husband and father.
I’ll give him a high-five; give him a hug. I knew him when he was a 350-pound rookie to now, when he’s one of the slimmest centers in the league. It’s just an amazing transformation that he’s made to where he is now. He’s a leader now on an Oklahoma team that has the best record in basketball. I’ll just look at him as a little brother. He’ll always be that. We communicate. I see how he’s doing. It’s just that bond from playing with someone for so long and winning the championship.”
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, who is best friends with Perk, admitted tonight’s game will be emotional but added “I didn’t lose him. It’s not like he’s dead.”
It’s a little emotional, but he’ll be ready to play. I just hope he doesn’t do too well.”