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Tramel: A little mean streak can be good for Thunder

by Berry Tramel Published: May 20, 2011

/articleid/3569969/1/pictures/1422646">Photo - Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) reacts beside Brendan Haywood (33) of Dallas after a Kevin Durant dunk during game 2 of the Western Conference Finals in the NBA basketball playoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Thursday, May 19, 2011. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) reacts beside Brendan Haywood (33) of Dallas after a Kevin Durant dunk during game 2 of the Western Conference Finals in the NBA basketball playoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Thursday, May 19, 2011. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

True story. Some game a few weeks ago, Perkins griped about a call, the ref called a technical and told Perk to stop yelling.

Responded Perkins, with a glare, “Don't you talk that way to me.” Just in case the ref missed it, Perkins repeated his message. “Don't you talk that way to me.”

How can that kind of attitude not rub off?

Perkins admits he wants the Thunder to play with more swagger. To play mean.

And that includes Durant, the charming, smiling, lovable beanstalk whose talent is surpassed only by his humility.

“Guys mistake his kindness for weakness,” Perkins said. “There are teams that come in trying to out-tough him. He's starting to get a mean streak. Once he gets it...”

Don't worry. It's coming fast. In addition to the technical foul, Durant engaged in a virtual Game 2 shoving match with Dallas' DeShawn Stevenson for positioning. The whistle never blew.

“I guess because I'm skinny, they think I'm soft,” Durant said. “I make it up with my heart and my will and my aggressiveness.

“And this time of year, they let us get away with definitely more stuff.”

Now, the Thunder can't get too wild. Can't resort to anarchy. Seven technicals in the playoffs result in a one-game suspension. So Perkins has to be careful. No reason for Westbrook to risk it, either.

But it's hard not to like the results of this new attitude.

“I like seeing KD show some emotion at times,” Brooks said. “He does a great job keeping it in. But after a dunk like that, how can you not get fired up?”

The Thunder is an emotional group. No reason to bottle up that passion. Let it out. Or the Thunder will just make Perkins madder.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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