When I think of Kendrick Perkins, the first thing that comes to mind is his scowl. This trademark look is a mixture of waking up on the wrong side of the bed and figuring out that today is tuna casserole day in the cafeteria. (Just to be clear I am pro-tuna casserole, I just remember that others in my various levels of schooling did not usually share my enthusiasm).
But, there is more to this particular bench enforcer and low post defense-man than an ever-present expression of discomfort. You don't last 11 years in this league without some discernible skill or trait that keeps you around. The season ended so little ago that the Cavaliers have not had exit interviews yet. But, I direct you to his exit interview from last year in Oklahoma with the Thunder.
I imagine that this year's will not be much different. I could even see some of the players possibly echoing Perk's posture on the podium. While not the most eloquent speaker, Perk is throwing out gems here. He speaks about valuing possessions, being mentally ready, and sacrificing agendas for the betterment of the team.
I cannot think of a person I would have wanted around a young Tyler Zeller more than Big Perk. I feel especially bad for Dion Waiters that he never got to hear Perkins talk about approaching the game. He missed out both here in Cleveland and in Oklahoma City.
There's a weird story where Perkins and Derek Fisher had to console and refocus a frustrated James Harden after a Game 1 Finals win in 2012. Harden was upset because he wasn't being used correctly. Enter Perk and Fisher to explain to him that "The Finals is the most important 2 weeks of your professional life so, take the win man!" That is the kind of insight the team needs from the elder statesmen of the locker room.
Cavs fans were skeptical of Perk when the Cavaliers signed him. They had every right to be. The center position looks to be going the way of yellow plastic consumer electronics with matching headphones. Defensive centers like Kendrick Perkins whose main purpose is defending low post scorers might be going the way of The Loudmouth.
Honestly. I'll be sad to see such figures rendered obsolete because there is still something of value to be gained from their experiences. Even if Perk's experience just boils down to being a professional, setting good hard screens, and being a good teammate. After the weird period of the prior four years I actually welcome such characters with open arms. Perk is low maintenance and we can all agree that's a nice thing to have around. Or, do I have to remind you of a past-prime Shaquille O'Neal being upset about playing time a handful of seasons ago.