Kendrick Perkins, the first to sign up forÂ Rajon RondoÂ Â Charity Classic at Harvard, put his perimeter skills on display.Â 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 thereâ€™s still pain from last Februaryâ€™s trade to Oklahoma City. Â Read more after the jump.
Where formerÂ CelticsÂ teammateÂ Leon PoweÂ focused on spot-up 3-pointers â€” the thingsÂ Doc RiversÂ never would have let him do, Powe said â€” Perkins put the ball on the floor. He brought it up, played a little point guard and took Houstonâ€™s Kyle Lowry to the basket off a between-the-legs crossover dribble.
None of it felt strange, except for his introduction.
â€œHurt, surprised, I think it really still hasnâ€™t hit me yet â€” not really,â€ he said later. â€œI 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.
â€œIt still hurts that I got traded, but then the city of Oklahoma has been great to me. Theyâ€™ve embraced me with open arms, and I have no complaints about the city of Oklahoma and the whole organization.â€
Perkinsâ€™ 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 nightâ€™s reception gave him a sample.
â€œIt hit me,â€ he said of the ovation from a crowd of approximately 1,900 that paid $50 or $100 to see some NBA players. â€œI was nervous at first stepping back out there, but itâ€™s not going to be my last time coming to Boston. I was just happy to be playing in front of the fans.
â€œI never knew I missed it as much as I did until I got in there,â€ Perkins said. â€œI missed the whole city of Boston, the whole of New England, and it just felt good playing basketball here. Itâ€™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. Iâ€™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.â€