In today’s NBA, team loyalties aren’t what they once were. Many of the players have friendships off the court that cross team lines, and the only time we ever see anything close to animosity from most are over those 48 minutes when they’re competing on the court.
But locker rooms remain sacred places, reserved for current team personnel only, with the exception occasionally being made for a former member of the organization if they were well-respected or left on friendly terms.
That explains the reaction of Kendrick Perkins following the Thunder’s win over the Bulls on Thursday, when he had strong words for Joakim Noah who entered the OKC locker room to chat with Thabo Sefolosha, a player with whom he shares international ties.
“Get your ass up outta here,” Perkins told Noah, after a brief exchange.
Noah downplayed the severity of the incident on Saturday, but he did admit he was wrong by entering the opposing team’s locker room.
“I shouldn’t have been in that locker room in the first place and, you know, just wanted to say hi to some loved ones,” Noah said following Saturday’s morning shootaround. “Thabo (Sefolosha) is family; that’s it. It’s not a big deal. Perk is an angry dude. It’s all good.”
Noah said he had no history with Perkins despite facing him during the Bulls’ epic 2009 playoff series with the Celtics that stretched seven games. Thibodeau coached Perkins then and isn’t surprised that Perkins asked Noah to leave.
“That’s normal. That’s usually how teams respond,” Thibodeau said. “The only guys that usually come in are guys who have been with the organization before.”
Players from opposing teams talk to each other all the time after games have been completed, but protocol is to wait outside the locker room or to catch up while heading to the team bus walking through the arena’s tunnels.
Perkins plays the game with a scowl on his face, so Noah’s “angry dude” comment is definitely on point. But he was wrong for going in the Thunder locker room in the first place, and he had no problem saying so a few days later.