In the midst of a 13-year professional career that has seen a little bit of everything, Kendrick Perkins is taking on a new challenge.
Perkins has played with four NBA teams and gone to four NBA Finals, winning a title with the Boston Celtics in 2007-08. But after being waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers before the regular season, the 33-year-old joined the Cavs’ NBA G League affiliate, the Canton Charge, and is now playing with players 10 years his junior as he tries to make it back to the NBA.
“I just had to throw my pride aside and come down here and just lace my boots up,” said Perkins. “At the end of the day, it’s a no-ego type of situation. I just want to keep trying to do things to improve, to get better, and to get to the next goal – getting back to the NBA.”
Perkins, a veteran of nearly 800 games, is on a mission to prove that he still has game. But like any change in life, there’s been an adjusting period.
“I didn’t know what to expect. Mentally, I had to prepare myself,” he said. “It’s not bad, like some people may assume, it’s a great situation. You get to compete at a high level, they give you a nice apartment to live in, and the rest kind of takes care of itself.”
Charge coach Nate Reinking watched Perkins in Cleveland during training camp, and said that he knew it would be an obvious choice to bring him in after he ultimately was let go – if he was willing to take the new role.
“It just shows how much he loves the game and how much he wants to get back,” said Reinking. “He loves the game and loves being a leader. Day in and day out the example he sets in our organization is just incredible.”
Widely regarded as one of the best teammates in the NBA throughout his years in the league, Perkins has made a mark on many locker rooms. But never has he been “the guy” for everyone to look up to around the team as he is now with a group of 20-year olds around the room.
“He brings so much to the team,” said Cavaliers and Charge two-way guard John Holland. “Just the knowledge from being around, everybody respects him and everyone learns so much from him. He’s like a coach on the court, he’s been in every situation so he knows everything you need to know.”
The coaches have found it helping them as well, as Perkins has been able to help coach from the floor and the bench, while keeping everyone on the same page. Reinking said Perkins “establishes terrific chemistry, which is very important.”