While pundits play the blame game it’s former OKC Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins who served up the most insightful takes on Kevin Durant.
No more speculation about Kevin Durant‘s injury is required after the superstar himself confirmed he ruptured his Achilles tendon. The former OKC Thunder superstar posted an Instagram message following surgery as he begins his recovery process.
Pundits spent the past few days playing the blame game pointing fingers at the Warriors and his teammates suggesting he should never have played given how severe the initial injury was.
Many suspected the pressure he felt to play forced the star into taking the court and is a decision he’ll have probably a year to contemplate as he rehabilitates. In his Instagram message, he stated he wanted to play but that’s not surprising since most players would prefer to be on the court rather than sidelined.
The day after Game 5, Tracy McGrady spoke on how upset Perkins was by Durant’s injury stating he showed up in a room and was inconsolable. Perkins spoke to Durant’s brother who confirmed he tore his Achilles the night of the injury.
His tweet below is interesting as he suggests the management group in OKC would never have allowed Durant to take the court regardless of whether KD wanted to or not.
Another storyline which will undoubtedly gain momentum is how Durant’s image will shift with him playing in Game 5. Since leaving the OKC Thunder, Durant hasn’t exactly been a media darling despite his oncourt prowess as he was viewed either as a sellout, lambasted for using fake Twitter accounts and sometimes surly media responses.
In hindsight, KD shouldn’t have played, but just the fact he tried and wanted to help his teammates will go a long way to change how fans view the superstar.
To that end, its former teammate Kendrick Perkins who spoke on his relationship with Durant and the young OKC Thunder players which in my opinion provides great insight into KD the human being and allows us to see him in a more compassionate light.
Kendrick Perkins claims young Thunder weren’t in sync:
Perkins two part interview with Kristine Leahy of Fair Game was full of incredible inside stories from his playing days. The primary focus is placed on the big man’s time with the Boston Celtics (where he won a title) and with the OKC Thunder.
Before diving into Perkins anecdotes and musings let’s be clear Kendrick Perkins needs to be on air ideally seven days a week on a major network. His game insights and real world takes are a breath of fresh air. Credited with coining the “cupcake” phrase in OKC, Perkins is no different on air. He’s a straight shooter who isn’t trying to deliver hot takes or spin one side of a debate – it’s just the real – REAL.
As for the interviews let me start with Perkins comments on Durant who he terms his little brother. Incidentally, this isn’t an arbitrary comment as one of his favorite players coming into the NBA was Kevin Garnett who gave him the same ‘little brother’ moniker.
Rather, this is a term of endearment, respect, and genuineness. Clearly, the relationship between the two former players blossomed into this mutual respect. Based on Perkins no B.S. mantra the familial protectiveness of an older and younger brother resonates on a level some blood relatives would be envious of.
On his late night calls with Durant:
During Kevin Durant’s emotionally 2013 MVP he spoke on each of his teammates and it was the first time fans learned of his late night phone sessions with Kendrick Perkins.
The section of KD’s speech where he addresses Perk starts at 5:00 minutes in the youtube video below.
Perkins spoke to Leahy in more detail regarding these phone calls and the substance of their conversations. Again, it provides a different perspective on Durant and showcases him in a different light. So often Durant’s interaction with the media makes him appear arrogant and short tempered.
Perkins offers another perspective, one which paints the picture of even the best players in the NBA go through moments of insecurity and how Durant was obsessed with being better both for himself and to help his team succeed.
“A lot of people don’t understand that we all are human beings just because their superstars don’t mean nothing. You know they still have their highs and their lows. They may not show it to the open world and you know just because you can have everything you like moneywise that still don’t solve problems. You know what I mean, like if you’re going through something mentally on a basketball court.
So, K.D. used to call me after games if he was frustrated. I mean literally, we would stay on the phone until like 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. And I’d just break it down to him and tell him if he did something good, I’d tell him if he did something bad. It would never be to the point where I’m biased or want him to get mad. I was always straightforward with him.”
On who Kevin Durant is a person and teammate:
He’s the most humble superstar I’ve ever been around in my life. Like when I say low maintenance guy, I mean he just cares about basketball and is highly intelligent.”
“He’s the most humble superstar I’ve ever been around in my life.“
This type of insight showcases the man Kevin Durant, not the superstar or perceived image of the superstar. Although Durant hasn’t done himself any favors in the past by his quips to reporters or fake Twitter accounts debates with fans Perkins sheds more light on KD the individual and because these comments are coming from someone else who knows him as a person it makes it far more palatable and meaningful to see Durant in this light.
On the young OKC Thunder:
During his interview with Leahy, Perkins speaks to the 2012 OKC Thunder and how they were hungry to win. Perk notes how he initially arrived with players and fans looking at him as someone who was replacing a beloved teammate in Jeff Green but that he quickly assimilated.
His comments about the team being too young without enough experience when they did reach the finals aren’t surprising as that’s the case with most young squads. Furthermore, it’s not surprising to learn the team was struggling with who the alpha was given their your turn – my turn approach with Westbrook and Durant.
The bigger takeaway here is when you read between the lines of this statement and the actual words he uses. Seemingly, Perk is lending credence to Scotty Brooks inability to seize control of the team and enforce a definitive structure and system. Having played under Doc Rivers previously this also isn’t that surprising as Doc is infamous for the ability to inspire his players while simultaneously gaining their respect.
Why fans need a daily dose of Perk on air:
Here are three clips which highlight why Kendrick Perkins is someone we could all use a daily dose of. Whether he’s calling out rappers or, impersonating coaches (to a tee I might add) or throwing shade at opponents he faced, it’s all the real – REAL!
As a teammate, it’s clear Perkins along with Nick Collison provided the initial foundation for their young OKC Thunder teammates to grow and learn from. Now that he’s moved into the media world here’s hoping some savvy producer figures out Perk is someone who doesn’t just say things to rile fans and get noticed (we see you, Colin Cowherd and Stephen A. Smith).
Rather, he’s a former player who won’t just say something to get noticed but he’ll give fans the proper insight and honest takes. Just like Perkins had the backs of his teammates he’ll have fans best interest in mind as he keeps it real.