Kendrick Perkins stood in front of reporters during the Celtics Media Day on Monday cracking jokes and emphasizing the team's positive outlook for the upcoming season, but there was one moment when the forward's relaxed expression turned serious. In response to a question about his starting position once he returns from injury early next year provoked a firm response.
"My spot is not up for grabs."
And you know what? It shouldn't be.
If there's anything that Kendrick Perkins proved to Celtics fans last season –before his freak knee injury in Game 6 of the NBA Finals — it was that he had earned and deserved that starting spot. Perk has spent his entire career in Boston, and developed into a durable post option for the C's. His performance throughout the season slipped into a comfortable consistency for Boston fans, and it wasn't until he was gone did we truly grasp the impact he had out on the court.
His 10.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game were sorely missed during Game 7, and according to Perk the Celtics would have won by "double figures" had he been out on the court against the Lakers. Instead he was learning the harsh reality of an ACL injury, looking at six or more long months of rehab ahead of him.
But Perk has never lost confidence in his ability to return, and neither should the Celtics' administration. I know there are a few new options in town that go by the name of O'Neal, but when Perkins returns from injury, he should be back on that starting roster.
If you're a Celtics fan, you wouldn't expect anything less from the determined forward, a guy who can hardly sit still thinking about his return, and couldn't help but pick up a basketball and toss a soft layup off the glass during Media Day. He's excited about Jermaine and Shaq joining the squad, and is working toward the collective goal of lifting banner number 18 to the rafters, but in Perk's mind the best way he can contribute to that objective is by performing on the court.
Every player on the Celtics is radiating confidence for the upcoming season, but it's the absolute assurance by Perk that should earn him the starting nod when he returns.
Do you think Kendrick Perkins should be in the starting lineup upon return? Or should Shaquille or Jermaine O'Neal take the starting nod for the season?