Kendrick Perkins will return to TD Garden on Monday for the first time since the Celtics dealt him to Oklahoma City at the trade deadline last season. And although he'll be sporting a different jersey, that doesn't take away what he meant to the Celtics for seven-plus seasons.
"That will be tough for me, that will be different," head coach Doc Rivers said regarding Perkins' return. "Perk's a Celtic — I don't give a crap what uniform he has on, he's a Celtic for life. And he knows that."
Perkins also admitted that Monday night's return will be a bit strange, as the big man became very accustomed to going to battle alongside some of the same players whom he'll be matched up against on Monday night.
"It'll be weird for me," Perkins told CSNNE.com. "Because you know, all I know — all I knew — was being a Celtic. But hey man, it's a business."
Perkins was dealt to the Thunder last February, along with Nate Robinson, in exchange for Jeff Green Nenad Krstic and a 2012 first-round pick. The move came upon the Celtics' realization that they would be unable to lock up the young center to a long-term deal.
Perkins was drafted 27th overall in 2003 and arrived in Boston via a draft-night deal. He evolved into a respected leader for the C's, helping to anchor an excellent defensive frontcourt alongside Kevin Garnett.
"You know I'm always going to have love for Boston and the fans," Perkins said. "I had some good times, some bad times, too. But they showed me a lot of love, lot of love."
Perkins has stayed in touch with some of his teammates since leaving, including point guard Rajon Rondo, who says the two talk daily and have remained best friends.