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OKC Thunder: Kendrick Perkins doesn't regret being on receiving end of Blake Griffin's dunk

NBA — Kendrick Perkins puts himself in a position to contest everything around the basket. Unfortunately, sometimes that puts him in a position to be dunked on, like on Monday in Los Angeles.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, Published: February 2, 2012

If Kendrick Perkins could do it over, he wouldn't change a thing.

Despite winding up on the wrong end of what many have been deemed the ‘Dunk of the Year,” Perkins would challenge Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin again if he needed to.

And again and again and again.

“It happens. At the end of the day, if you're a shot blocker, you're going to get dunked on,” Perkins said. “It was a great play that he made. Obviously, I wish I wasn't in it. But it was a great play that he made.”

Of course, what's flown under the radar from the play that is still being talked about four days later is that Perkins made one, too. But that's been overlooked in the millions of YouTube hits, countless replays on “SportsCenter” and even talk on TNT's pregame show Thursday night.

All Perkins did was rotate from the weak side a split second too late. By the time Griffin corralled a bounce pass from Chris Paul out of the pick-and-roll, there wasn't a thing anyone could do to stop what was about to take place.

Perkins tried anyway.

“The thing about Perk is he's going to put himself in a position to contest everything around the basket,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

How many NBA players willingly would put themselves in harm's way? How many would risk embarrassment in the ever-changing social media age?

Coaches and teammates of Perk say the answer is not many.

“I've been around a lot of defensive-minded players,” Brooks said. “You're going to get dunked on. There's no way around it. There's tremendous athletes in this league. But it doesn't affect him. He's going to come out and do the same thing tonight and guard the basket. That's what he does.”

The Thunder is looking to move on while the rest of the world harps on the highlight. As Oklahoma City faces Memphis on Friday night, and another high-flyer in forward Rudy Gay, the Thunder can take solace in knowing that its best low-post defender, tough guy and all-around enforcer won't back down from future mid-air battles.

“I'm a fan of the game and I appreciate what he did,” Brooks said of Griffin. “But I also appreciate what Perk does. He challenges baskets. That's what the good defenders do. The sorry defenders are going to back away because they don't want to be posterized. You put yourself in a position to get embarrassed, but by doing that you protect us from being scored on. And we're a pretty good defensive team because of Perk.”

One thing that largely has been overlooked is how Perkins' decision to challenge the shot actually helped Griffin create the highlight — and not just because he got dunked on. By rotating over, Perkins allowed Griffin to push off his body and linger in the air. According to a segment ESPN's Sports Science did on the play, Griffin extended his flight time by a tenth of a second by pushing down on Perkins at the apex of his arc.

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