No one saw the trade coming.
He grew up in front of some the most discerning fans in all of professional sports. His trademark scowl and toughness endeared him to the hard working people of Boston. He was steadfast, a rock, a championship defender.
And now he is gone.
Perkins has taken his talents to the Oklahoma City Thunder and, in every sense of the phrase, is their X-Factor.
He brings playoff poise and championship pedigree to a team bursting at the seams with talent. Paired with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, they form a three-headed monster that any team should be leery of.
Oklahoma City already had talent and the desire to win, now they add an interior presence who has something to prove.
The addition of Kendrick Perkins makes the Thunder a contender, end of story.
On the other hand, what has the loss of Perkins meant to the Boston Celtics? Far more than Danny Ainge bargained for, I am afraid.
According to Pro Basketball Talk, Ainge says this trade not only makes the Celtics a better team this year, but also better for the future. Yet he also contends he wishes he could have signed Perkins to an extension last summer.
So what changed?
There are two types of players teams get built around: stars and big men. Once the big three retire, the Celtics would have been left with Perkins, a big man widely respected and feared in the league, and an elite point guard in Rajon Rondo.
Now they are left with a struggling point guard who can’t seem to pull things together since his best friend moved away, and Jeff Green, a swingman who has yet to show his worth.
And not only are the future cornerstones of this team now flawed and unstable, but the current team’s stability and chemistry has been altered, perhaps irrevocably.
Professional athletes, perhaps more than anyone else in professional sports, understand that it is a business. Things change, parts move, the games play on.
This time was different, this time if felt personal.
A family was separated, a brotherhood broken…and the remaining pieces have yet to recover.
Doc Rivers believes it would be to “simple” to blame the C’s current slump on the trade. I believe it would be naïve and detrimental to the current championship bid to look any further.
Talent is key, but it can only take you so far. It is the heart of a champion that rises above.
The Celtics’ collective heart is broken. The question is whether or not they have had enough time to heal.