Kendrick Perkins, the first to sign up for Rajon Rondo Charity Classic at Harvard, put his perimeter skills on display. Perkins may have drawn the biggest roar of the night from the sold-out Lavietes Pavilion crowd. But an old hurt surfaced. He admitted that there’s still pain from last February’s trade to Oklahoma City. Read more after the jump.
Where former Celtics teammate Leon Powe focused on spot-up 3-pointers — the things Doc Rivers never would have let him do, Powe said — Perkins put the ball on the floor. He brought it up, played a little point guard and took Houston’s Kyle Lowry to the basket off a between-the-legs crossover dribble.
None of it felt strange, except for his introduction.
“Hurt, surprised, I think it really still hasn’t hit me yet — not really,” he said later. “I think everything happened so fast, last year coming back from my ACL injury and getting traded to Oklahoma City where I had to be a leader.
“It still hurts that I got traded, but then the city of Oklahoma has been great to me. They’ve embraced me with open arms, and I have no complaints about the city of Oklahoma and the whole organization.”
Perkins’ first visit to the Garden as a member of the Thunder would have occurred Jan. 16. Indeed, if the lockout ends, that still could be the moment when reality finally bites in a very sweet and sour way. Last night’s reception gave him a sample.
“It hit me,” he said of the ovation from a crowd of approximately 1,900 that paid $50 or $100 to see some NBA players. “I was nervous at first stepping back out there, but it’s not going to be my last time coming to Boston. I was just happy to be playing in front of the fans.
“I never knew I missed it as much as I did until I got in there,” Perkins said. “I missed the whole city of Boston, the whole of New England, and it just felt good playing basketball here. It’s always overwhelming. You try to catch yourself from dropping a tear, but like I always say, the city has been good to me since I came into the NBA at a young age at 18. I’ll never take it for granted, and I definitely appreciate all of the support when I come back to New England. I hated to leave. God does everything for a reason, but my heart is still in Boston and New England. It was just fun to be back.”
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