McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

February 2, 2012

Thunder takes on Memphis tonight

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN — It was the dunk heard ’round the world. During Oklahoma City’s 112-100 loss to the Clippers on Monday, Kendrick Perkins was posterized by former Sooner Blake Griffin during the third quarter. 

Video of the play immediately went viral as social media sites were buzzing with Perkins’ name. For days, ESPN and other television shows replayed the dunk over and over as it soon took on mythical proportions.

Perkins response after the game was simple. 

“It happens.”

That is the life of a shot blocker and intimidator in the NBA. Because Perkins is the backbone and last line of defense for the Thunder, there are times he’s going to get caught rotating late to cover a teammate and get dunked on.

All big men in the game have gotten the rim rocked on them at some point. Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal have all had to deal with it. The only difference for Perkins this time, was that whenever Griffin dunks on someone, social media takes notice. 

Despite the ridicule Perkins has taken this week, his coach knows how valuable his big man is to the Thunder’s success. 

“Perk starts that intensity,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “He brings everything. I never, not one time, looked at the stat sheet. I know what he brings. I know what he’s about. He’s about toughness. He’s about the spirit of competition. Very rarely are you going to see a big scoring night. He brings it.”

Despite only being 27 years old, Perkins is a seasoned veteran in the NBA. He isn’t going to let his posterization change his game or his aggressive nature. Whether it’s Griffin, LeBron James or Dwight Howard, the Texas native will not hesitate to put himself in between them and his basket. 

“I know my role, first thing, is to guard the best post guy they have on that end,” Perkins said, “be the anchor of the defense, be the talker. Get guys open, rebound, block shots, then worry  about scoring last. I don’t worry too much about how many shots I take in a game, because I know where I affect the game and I know who I am as a player. So, I don’t just let shots determine whether I had a good game. 

“We just worry about being the best defensive team in the league.”

After being away from home the past nine days, the Thunder return to the Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight when they take on Memphis. Game time is 7 p.m.