When I spoke to Kendrick Perkins right after the game against the Clippers where Blake Griffin threw down the dunk of the year on him, he didn’t know what had happened. Oh, he knew he’d been dunked on spectacularly and he accepted that as part of the game when you are a shot blocker. But he had no idea how the dunk had already gone viral.
Perkins still graciously accepts the outcome of the play — but he’s pissed about the reaction from LeBron James. LeBron thought he had the dunk of the year leaping over John Lucas the night before, but tweeted this right after Griffin’s dunk:
Dunk of the Year! @blakegriffin just dunked on Kendrick Perkins so hard!!! Wow! I guess I’m No. 2 now. Move over #6.”
“You don’t see Kobe [Bryant] tweeting,” Perkins said. “You don’t see Michael Jordan tweeting. If you’re an elite player, plays like that don’t excite you. At the end of the day, the guys who are playing for the right reasons who are trying to win championships are not worrying about one play.
“They also are not tweeting about themselves talking about going down to No. 2. I just feel [James] is always looking for attention and he wants the world to like him.”
Ouch. And Perkins isn’t totally wrong here. Not from his view.
LeBron wants basketball to be fun for him, like it was when he felt like he owned the world in high school. He went to Miami to help recreate that atmosphere (play with Dwyane Wade, own Miami). It’s why he didn’t like the villain role last year. He does want to be liked.
LeBron’s tweet is an extension of that. But at the NBA level the game is different and more serious. Perkins sees winning as fun and the goal, anything short of that is failure, and there should be no distractions on that road. Like who has the best dunk. Different world views with those two. LeBron is trying to have fun, Perkins sees a guy distracted.
But it’s going to be fun when they meet and LeBron drives the lane and Perkins is there. We know this much about Perk — he’s not backing down.