When someone with the size and temperament of 6-foot-10, 261-pound Kendrick Perkins speaks, teammates tend to listen.
Dating back to a Feb. 24, 2011, trade that brought him to the Thunder via the Boston Celtics, Perkins has preached patience.
This might seem odd coming from a man with 12 technical fouls (and four rescinded) this season, but Perkins is surprisingly cerebral when it comes to his trade. There is plenty of useful NBA wisdom behind his Beaumont (Texas) drawl.
The patience Perk persistently preaches has to do with staying the course toward winning a world championship, a journey he completed with the Celtics in 2008 at age 23.
That happens to be the same age as Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and is one year older then budding stars James Harden and Serge Ibaka.
Perkins recalls the grind of winning the title, how the Larry O'Brien Trophy doesn't come easily, even if you're on the best team.
With the playoffs commencing Saturday, April 28, OKC is about to find out where it truly rates.
A 66-game season shortened by a 149-day lockout has been more challenging than many players probably envisioned.
Perkins' primary task all season has been to make sure his teammates don't get bored with the process. No matter how dull or redundant, Perkins has stressed the importance of trying to improve a little more each day and to not drift off course.
It's the same belief coach Scott Brooks and veterans such as Nazr Mohammed, Nick Collison, Royal Ivey have reiterated themselves — and also vet newcomer Derek Fisher — but words sometimes ring hollow.
The Thunder's high-water mark came two games after All-Star break, when it stood high above the Western Conference at 29-7 (.806).
Since then, OKC has gone 16-10 (.615) and sits 45-17 (.726) overall heading into Friday's 9 p.m. contest at Sacramento.
The Thunder is in a four-way fist fight for the NBA's best record, but trails the San Antonio Spurs (45-16) by two games for the top playoff seed in the West — one game in the loss column and one more game because the Spurs own the tiebreaker thanks to winning the regular-season series 2-1.
Why the slide since being 29-7? Brooks points directly at his team's schedule and its degree of difficulty.
Eighteen of the Thunder's last 26 games have been against teams still alive for the playoffs. OKC has gone 9-9 against playoff teams and 7-1 against non-playoff teams.
"We've played some very tough teams," Brooks said. "We've had some games where we've struggled, but you have to give the opponent some credit also."
Has the Thunder gone against the Perkins mantra and gotten bored with the process? Has the comfort of having one of the league's best records since getting off to a 5-0 start led to boredom and complacency?
"No," Harden said without hesitation on Wednesday morning, the same day he erupted for a career-high 40 point that night at Phoenix. "We just had a bad half (in a 92-77 loss at the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night) and had a few bad games that you go through, especially in this league. I don't think we're bored.
"Everyone in this organization loves winning and loves doing the right thing. As long as we keep working hard and we're bettering ourselves every single day, we'll be OK."
Brooks pondered the same question considerably longer than Harden.
"I don't know if we're bored with the process," Brooks said. "I know that in any season there's a time in it where you're looking forward to the next season (the playoffs), and we have an opportunity to play in the next season."