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.
By no means are we suggesting that Perkins deserves credit for that. But challenging the shot does indeed require some sort of recognition. Call it an occupational hazard, one that Perkins gladly ignored for the greater good.
Now, there are all sorts of questions that could be asked in the aftermath. Some won't be known for weeks, if not months.
But for a player who has a history of making up all kinds of things to be mad at to use as a source for motivation — remember, he hates “everything” about L.A. Lakers forward Pau Gasol just because — how will he now perform now that he has been dealt a definite dose of inspiration?
Is somebody now going to have to pay?
We'll soon find out. But this much we know.
Perk has the support of his team, and that's not going to change one bit.
“Anytime you guys ask me about my teammate getting dunked on or crossed up or a shot that's made on him, it's a bad play for me,” said Kevin Durant. “I don't like it.”
Thunder vs. Grizzlies
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena
TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM
Three things to know
* This is the third of four regular-season meetings between these two teams. The Thunder is 2-0 against Memphis. The first two games were played in Memphis. The Thunder won the first game inside FedExForum by three points and took the second game by five.
* Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha has missed two straight games with a sore right foot. He is questionable for Friday night's game against Memphis.
* The Thunder is 8-1 at home. Memphis was 4-7 on the road before Thursday's game at Atlanta. After this game, the Thunder hits the road for five straight games.
Pos.; Player; Ht.; Pts.; Reb.; Ast.
G; Russell Westbrook; 6-3; 21.9; 4.8; 5.7
G; Daequan Cook; 6-5; 5.0; 2.2; 0.2
F; Kevin Durant; 6-9; 26.6; 8.1; 3.1
F; Serge Ibaka; 6-10; 7.3; 6.9; 0.6
C; Kendrick Perkins; 6-10; 4.8; 5.8; 0.7
Pos.; Player; Ht.; Pts.; Reb.; Ast.
G; Mike Conley; 6-1; 12.9; 2.6; 7.2
G; Tony Allen; 6-4; 10.2; 3.4; 0.7
F; Rudy Gay; 6-8; 17.9; 6.5; 2.0
F; Marreese Speights; 6-10; 7.7; 5.8; 0.9
C; Marc Gasol; 7-1; 14.9; 10.6; 2.9
* Stats and records are through Wednesday's games.