This is Kendrick Perkins in an Oklahoma City Thunder uniform.
Go on, take a peek. I know it’s painful, but you’ve got to look sometime, and there’s no better time than the present. Just let the image sink in — rip the Band-Aid off now, you’ll be relieved later.
The first thing you’ll notice is that Perk really doesn’t look happy.
He’s wearing the orange and blue uniform, he’s clutching a basketball that looks smaller than a chickpea, and he’s got the glummest facial expression you’ll ever encounter. I’ve seen happier faces in the operating room at the dentist’s office. Perk’s trademark scowl has been replaced by a depressing frown.
You think you’re sad that Perk’s gone? Imagine how much worse it must be for him. He may be saying all the right things, pretending to be excited about a fresh start with a clean slate in OKC, but the truth is, he’s bummed out. He was a starter on a championship team, surrounded by Hall of Fame teammates, and he had it all ripped away from him.
It really gets you thinking.
We live in an era where the stars control everything. LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, Carmelo Anthony held three franchises hostage for most of the season, and Dwight Howard and Chris Paul have already begun flirting with prospective employers for the 2012 sweepstakes. If you’re young and talented and powerful, you’ve got the whole basketball world in your hands.
But if you’re Perk, you’re helpless.
The former Celtics center tried to control his own NBA destiny. He made one single solitary attempt at a power play earlier this month — the C’s offered him a contract extension of $22 million over four years, and Perk politely said no, thanks. He wanted to keep his options open, just in case.
It was just one offer, and a lowball one at that. We all know Perk’s worth more than $5.5 million a season. But because he said no, he planted that seed of doubt in the Celtics’ minds, tempting them to trade him and get something back. It was just one offer! Imagine how much grief LeBron and Carmelo put their franchises through before they relocated.
The Celtics wanted a sure thing rather than taking a risk with Perkins — not only health-wise, but contractually as well. Perk ended up learning the hard way that the NBA can be a cold, cruel, unforgiving business.
Deep down, Kendrick Perkins probably wanted to remain a Celtic long-term. The C’s are the team that raised him, nurtured him, shaped him into a champion. But ultimately, he didn’t have a choice. That’s the sad state of affairs in the NBA today.
Maybe someday, Perk will smile again. But that looks like a long way off.
How do you feel about seeing Kendrick Perkins on the Oklahoma City Thunder? Share your thoughts below.
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