Berry Tramel: Kendrick Perkins already loves Oklahoma City

New Thunder center Kendrick Perkins' contract extension is another example of how big-time NBA players can learn to like life in one of the league's smallest markets.
by Berry Tramel Published: March 1, 2011

Kendrick Perkins can't describe first class — “words can't explain it” — but he knows it when he sees it.

Perkins found it in Thunderville.

Five days ago, Perkins sat in a Denver hotel room, that famous scowl replaced by tears, distraught by a trade from his beloved Celtics.

Now Perkins stands as the latest poster child for Oklahoma City's amazing basketball story, having signed a four-year contract extension that makes him a Thunder cornerstone through 2015.

“It kind of felt like the worst day of my life when I got traded from the C's,” Perkins said. “But when I got here ... everything just kind of blew me away. Overwhelming.”

Since the Thunder landed 32 months ago, its brass has vowed to run a first-class organization. In a no-frills city, run a franchise that makes elite ballplayers want to come and want to stay.

Lot of talk. Turns out, lot of substance.

All those dire predictions that NBA stars would avoid OKC like a dust bowl? All those warnings that any decent Thunder draftee would hightail it out of town at first chance? Hollow and empty.

The promises of Clay Bennett and Sam Presti have come true. Four years ago, Presti sold Bennett on building this kind of franchise. Now Kevin Durant has signed through 2016 and Perkins is on board through 2015, the latter perhaps for less than he could have earned on the open market.

If Samuel Dalembert can make $12.2 million this season, and Brendan Haywood will make $27 million over the next three years, what would a team pay a center who stares down Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol?

But Perkins was more than content to take OKC's offer of $32 million-and-change over the next four seasons, plus what amounted to a $2 million bonus the rest of this season.

“I'm a country boy,” Perkins said. “I'm from Beaumont, Texas. I didn't have a crazy number in mind.”

So what's all this first-class treatment everyone's talking about? Well, when pressed, Perkins said something about state of the art equipment, plus breakfast for the players when they arrive every morning and lunch when they leave.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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