It wasn't long before Scott Brooks landed on something he could appreciate about Kendrick Perkins during a recent notes exchange with Doc Rivers.
"He doesn't like NBA players," Brooks said the Celtics coach told him about his new center.
Soon, Oklahoma City Thunder fans will admire that same attribute.
That's because Perkins, the 6-foot-10, 280-pound bruiser who was acquired in a trade Thursday, doesn't just play the part. He lives it.
"That's how you got to feed your family," Perkins said at his introductory press conference Saturday. "Game time, I wake up with an attitude after my nap."
On the court, Perkins' scowl is sincere. His moodiness is pre-meditated.
On any night. Against any player.
"I pick something about them that I just don't like," Perkins explained, his inflection growing more incensed at the mere thought. "It's petty but it's just me and it kind of sticks with me for the whole day, I might not like the way he walks on the court."
What about Pau Gasol, a reporter asked, what don't you like about him?
"Everything," Perkins responded, without a moment's hesitation.
Yeah, this guy's going to fit right in.
It's a shame Perkins won't be available for today's game against Gasol and the Los Angeles Lakers. But nobody is more disappointed than Perkins, who was forced to miss Game 7 of last year's NBA Finals after sustaining a knee injury in Game 6 of the NBA's most storied rivalry.
Perkins has been ruled out for the next two to three weeks with a sprained left knee, an injury he sustained last Tuesday. The start of a six-game home stand on March 18 against Charlotte is a target comeback date for Perkins.
And he can't wait to make his presence felt.
"Getting off the plane, everybody was telling me how they're excited about me being here, which kind of put a lot of pressure on me," Perkins said. "Now, I feel like I got to come in and just be better than ever as far as being a defensive-minded player."
Perkins has been pegged as the missing link for the Thunder. Heralded by some as the game's best interior defender, Perkins arrives with great expectations. The hope is that Perkins' skills will anchor the Thunder's backsliding defense and prop up everyone else in front of him.
"Talking with him briefly, you can tell that there's one agenda. And that is doing whatever it takes to help the team win," Brooks said.
Perkins has modest career averages of 6.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots in 454 games. But the 26-year-old center's game isn't about numbers. It's about nastiness.
Despite being surrounded by four All-Stars and three future Hall of Famers with the Celtics, it was Perkins who was viewed as the linchpin for Boston's vaunted defense. The Celtics finished in the top five in opponent points per game in each of the last three seasons and led the league in defensive field-goal percentage in two of the last three.
"He's a hard worker. That's one thing I love about him," said Nate Robinson, who came over in the deal that sent Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and a future first-round pick to Boston. "He's going to do everything the coach asks. Set screens. Play hard. And he's not taking no crap from nobody."
Perkins isn't the greatest athletically. He doesn't have pogo sticks for legs and won't win many sprint competitions on the court. But he makes up for those shortcomings with dominating strength, tremendously long arms and a knack for playing angles.
And then of course, there's that toughness.
"I sensed that right off the get-go," Brooks said. "He's a serious competitor that really wants to compete every night for his team."