“Those guys put in a lot of work. I didn't know they put in such work. They handle adversity great. Anything you throw at 'em, they handle it great.”
Perkins exasperates a good many Thunder fan. Oklahoma City is not quite the sophisticated basketball culture that Perk left in Boston. Little harder to impress people here with the little things. Screens. Post defense. Attitude.
So when Perkins flubs a layup or misses two foul shots, his value is immediately questioned.
But the Thunder, like Boston players and fans alike, know what they have. The Boomers listen to Gran Torino, the big guy who showed up and immediately changed the team's attitude, just with his presence. Immediately turned the Thunder back into a defensive-minded team, after almost four months of trying to outscore foes.
“Give him the credit,” Brooks said, “and give our guys the credit, because they've opened up with him and allowed him to speak up and they listen. Guys understand that we have to have everybody chipping in some way to help us win.”
When the Thunder laid an egg in Game 1 of this Memphis series, Perkins called a players-only dinner to talk about what went wrong. Game 2, the Thunder was 100 times tougher, and Zach Randolph rues that dinner.
Wednesday night, after the Thunder's 99-72 rout of Memphis, Perkins expressed displeasure with his team down the stretch. He didn't go into details. Maybe it was Nate Robinson's dribbling antics. Maybe it was several 3-point shots in the final minutes. Maybe it was the exuberant cheering from the bench in a 20-point blowout.
Whatever, Perk didn't like it and said so.
“We have to end the game with better class than that,” Perkins said. “That's too disrespectful in my eyes. That's not what the Thunder are about. I think we were too flashy.”
I didn't have a problem with any of it except Robinson's Globetrotter act. But I'm also going to go along with whatever Perk says.
Sign me up for a Thunder-Boston Finals in the near future. And sign me up for liking it that Kendrick Perkins likes it in Oklahoma City.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.