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Jenni Carlson

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Kendrick Perkins: Altar Boy No More

by Jenni Carlson Published: August 14, 2011

We knew Kendrick Perkins was no longer an altar boy.

All the mf bombs gave it away.

Still, we didn’t take the Thunder big man for a knucklehead.

Perkins, who served as an altar boy as a kid, went home to Beaumont, Texas, this week for his annual youth camp and foundation fundraiser. His foundation aims to help children learn life skills and drug awareness, and Perkins once told me that his youth camp in Beaumont is one of the most important things that he does, paying for much of it out of his own pocket.

But early Saturday morning, Perkins was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

The details?

He was arrested after an altercation at a nightclub. When police arrived, they observed about 50 people around Perkins, who was attempting to fight the manager of the club. Perkins had to be pushed out the back door to defuse the situation, but according to reports, he was yelling obscenities and fighting others in the crowd as he was being ushered from the club.

OK, that in and of itself is embarrassing for a guy who’s supposed to be in town raising funds for a foundation aimed at teaching kids life skills and drug awareness.

But there’s more to the story.

The night before, Perkins was in nearby Port Arthur, Texas, at the home of fellow NBA player Stephen Jackson. According to a local television report, the fire department was called to the house when Perkins had some sort of seizure and fell onto concrete. He was taken to the hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.

There were various reports of what caused the problem — intoxication, dehydration and food poisoning among them — but whatever the case, Perk attended neither his charity game Friday nor his camp banquet.

According to a spokesperson, he was ordered by a doctor to rest.

But apparently he rested up so he could go to a club, get drunk and start a fight.

Listen, I’m not here to say that people shouldn’t be allowed to have a good time. Drink with your friends. Go to a club. Whatever. There’s no harm in any of that. But to be in your hometown doing a youth camp and raising money for life-skills and drug-awareness training for kids, to be arrested less than 24 hours after going to the hospital and being told to rest, to blow off a charity game and a camp banquet to then go out to a club, that is plain dumb.

Clearly, Perkins’ altar boy status was gone long ago. It’s all because of his on-court persona, though. Perkins has never been a guy who’s had run-ins with the law or gotten his name on the police blotter. His bad-boy image has been all about his style of play, and frankly, the Thunder is OK with that. This is a team that needs the grittiness and the nasty that Perkins brings to the court.

But there’s never been a time that I thought Perk was a knucklehead. Truth be told, he’s one of the more thoughtful, intelligent interviews on the team. He sees situations for what they are, then he tells it like it is.

I’m going to follow his lead.

Perk was a bonehead this weekend. The Thunder expects better from him. Ditto for Oklahoma City.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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