Kendrick Perkins has an attitude problem. He knows it, and he'll never change. It's why he is who he is.
Behind that scowl is a shockingly smart basketball player. The Thunder center is about to start his 10th season, yet is still 27 years old. This truly makes him wise beyond his years.
This wisdom is delivered in a thick Texas drawl from a man who is Beaumont blunt. There's nothing but meat on the bone as he shares man-sized portions of knowledge.
“To me, it's all about trust,” Perkins said of manning the middle. “It's installed in me. If I'm going to be the anchor on the defensive end, I can't always just talk about it, I have to abide by it.”
Ask anybody what makes Perkins one of the league's premier post defenders and without fail they'll mention his attitude.
Thunder backup center Cole Aldrich, an aw-shucks 23-year-old from Minnesota missing one front tooth, admitted Perkins flat-out scares him sometimes.
What makes Perkins so good at the post?
“His knowledge,” Aldrich said. “He's played with a lot of good guys. He's been in the league 10 years and he's learned. He just knows the position and that's what makes him so good. You watch film of him and he really knows what he's doing.”
Aldrich flashed a gap-tooth smile as he said: “Then again, it could be 100-percent attitude, you never know.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said there is no mystery to what makes Perkins tick.
“It's all about attitude and toughness,” Brooks said. “If you don't have that in this league, you're going to get pushed around. You're not going to be able to perform and be able to stop players in this league. They're so skilled and talented, especially down low.”
Sweating profusely as usual after a practice, Perkins took a huge swig of water before proceeding to pontificate.
“Mostly it is attitude … and pride,” Perkins began. “Yeah, I do take it personal. Guarding people on the block, I take it real personal, especially when you're going against a guy known for getting a bucket at the 4 or 5 position. When I lock in, I don't care about nothing else that's going on.”
Perkins hears the constant rumblings about his modest stats. Some claim his career averages of 6.2 points and 6.2 rebounds make him expendable, particularly with the Thunder trying to sign Sixth Man of the Year James Harden to a contract extension.
Detractors claim OKC should simply exercise the amnesty clause available on Perkins, which would free up $17.6 million the next two seasons to re-sign Harden. What these folk fail to realize is the Thunder would then have a gaping hole in the middle and be in need of an attitude re-adjustment.