He stared back at reporters last Thursday and candidly rattled off a list of skills he struggled to supply.
After ranking in the top 10 in blocks the last two seasons, Perkins averaged less than one block for the first time since the 2004-05 season, his second year in the league. After ranking in the top 10 in dunks the last two seasons, Perkins had just five slams this season. And after converting at least 57 percent of his shots over the last three seasons, Perkins' accuracy fell to 51.5percent this season, just 49.3 percent while with the Thunder.
“It was times that I wanted to break down in the playoffs because things that I was capable of doing in the past without my injuries I couldn't do,” Perkins said. “But I was trying to give it my all.”
Perkins never cracked. He always held it together.
“Mentally, I'll probably give myself an A,” Perkins said. “I came in and gave guys confidence, let guys know that it's possible and that we are an elite team in this league and that we are capable of winning a title.”
How'd he do it?
“You just got to be a man about it. You just got to man up,” Perkins said. “I have too much pride to show any sign of weakness. I know a lot of young guys look up to me, so how could their big brother break down in front of them at any point in time? How would they react?”
Not that Perkins cares about critics, but the road to silencing them starts this summer. Perkins wants to show up for training camp at 265 pounds, 20 pounds lighter than he is now. He's hired a nutritionist and is planning to get to work right away, spending most of his time working out in Houston with former coach John Lucas II.
In the back of Perkins' mind is something former teammate and forever mentor Kevin Garnett once told him. It's what will fuel the Thunder's big man during these summer months.
“He said you'll see who really got love for the game once they get their money,” Perkins said. “It's certain guys that get paid and they just stop working. I'm not going to be one of those guys.”
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