What if Andrew Bynum did not go over the back of Kendrick Perkins in Game 6 of the Finals last season? Does the trade sending Perk to the Thunder still happen? Maybe not. In that alternate reality, its quite possible, some would say likely that the Celtics defeat the Lakers and we're talking about banner number 19 this season and a repeat title for the still undefeated-in-the-playoffs Starting Five.
In this alternate reality, the Celtics don't need to stock up on O'Neals in the offseason and instead can focus on adding depth in the wings. Depth that would be sufficient should Marquis Daniels, the primary backup to Paul Pierce, is injured - or maybe even Tony Allen decides to take the hometown discount for another round of Salmon and Mashed with the guys and a shot at a third title. In this scenario, Danny wouldn't have to trade his most tradeable chip to chase small forward depth (one may argue though that Perk would demand even more money this offseason as a starter on a two or three time champion, making him still likely to be traded - and that's totally possible). In this world, Perk probably sits tonight in a hotel room in L.A., getting ready to face the Clippers with his Brothers instead of watching his new teammates get plastered by the Magic in OKC.
What if Gilbert Arenas did not bring a gun into the locker room on Christmas Eve 2009? (hang in with me here - I know this is going to be a bit of a stretch) Does Quisy still end up on a stretcher, being carted off the court following a freak accident involving Marquis' neck and Gilbert's chest? Possibly not - Gilbert ended up on the Magic because he was a pariah following his return to the league from his lengthy suspension and the Magic took a flyer on him. He may not be on the Magic at all right now - if Gil doesn't get suspended, the Wiz probably don't have John Wall and Arenas probably isn't traded to the Magic. As Danny mentioned in his interview on WEEI yesterday, the injury to Marquis' really set this trade in motion. Without Arenas in the exact position he was in at the time, maybe Marquis's neck is never hurt.
I'm still stunned by this trade. I get the logic, I hope it works, but it still bums me out. But I can't get over these two quirky injuries (Daniels and Perk) and circumstances (Arenas thinking he's a modern day Aaron Burr) - even if they are only indirect events that have impacted the future of the Celtics and Perkins. I know its all circumstantial and an infinite number of other events could have occurred instead, but these two stones in the path that end with Perk being traded astound me. Hey, it all happened, but still.....
Watching the Association tonight was another reminder of how much I, and I think all Celtics fans will miss Perk. The next episode is going to brutal as it looks like there will be quite a bit of raw emotion from everyone involved in the trade. Probably Perk included.
Perk is a flawed player for sure. He can't jump. His slow gather under the rim is infamous. His jumpshot is reminiscent of a lazer beam (pewpewpew) - totally flat. But he was our flawed player.
He joined the team as a pudgy kid out of high school, but put in hours of work and became the best defender at his position in the league (anyone who mentions Dwight here is talking about shot blocking, I'm talking about defense). For me, what I love most of all about Perk, is that he cares. You can see it on the court in the scowl, or the clap of the hands when he knew he messed up a play. He cared enough to bust it through rehab and return from the knee injury early. Most of all I'll remember how distraught he was, sitting in his green dress shirt, during game 7 - that crushed me at the time, and maybe does so more now as I know he won't have a chance to fix it with his teammates. You could see clearly on his face how much he cares about the team and the game.
In an era where so many professional athletes seem not to care, or are just general egomaniacs, a guy like a Kendrick, a guy who may not be the most talented or athletic, but is willing to work to maximize his potential is what I want root for. He is the guy I want in the fox hole - not the Chosen One or the Smiling Superman. Give me the guy who cares deeply about what he's doing, that wants to win at all cost and will work as hard as he can until the game is over.
I hope we can find another guy like Perk someday.
Best of luck KP - Beat LA and ram it low.