Perkins returns for charity

Perkins returns for charity
November 20, 2011, 4:57 am
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CAMBRIDGE It was a charity basketball game, so the usual rules of engagement - you know, like defense, boxing out, rebounding, that kind of stuff - were tossed out the window.

It didn't matter.

Saturday night was a time to rejoice, because on this night, NBA basketball - or some Harlem Globetrotter-esque simulation of it - was alive in well in New England as the NBA lockout enters Day, too-many-to-count-so-we-won't-anymore.

But lost in the jubilation many felt with what may be the only NBA basketball this season, was the return of Kendrick Perkins.

It was the first time Perkins played on a court in these parts since the Celtics traded him away in February to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The only player that got a louder round of applause when introduced before the game, was current Celtics guard and Perkins BFF Rajon Rondo who arranged for Saturday night's game in which proceeds from ticket sales will go to various Boston-area charities.

"It's good to be here," Perkins told CSNNE.com. "It's always good for me whenever I come back here."

And Perkins certainly had a good time out there, throwing down lob dunks, getting put-back baskets and from time to time, running some at the point.

Only in a charity basketball game - or video game - will you ever see that.

Even Perkins, known for having one of the meanest faces in the NBA, couldn't help but smile at the way fans treated him on Saturday - and the many years before that.

"Boston has some great fans, great fans," said Perkins, as he waved to a woman wearing a Celtics No. 43 jersey, his old jersey. "They're passionate about their team. That's good, real good."

He later added, "I never knew how much I missed being here, until I got back in here. I definitely miss the city of Boston, the whole area of New England. It just felt good to be back playing basketball, in Boston."

Perkins, a first-round pick of the C's in 2003, spent his first seven-plus seasons with the Green team. A knee injury suffered during Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, took him out of action for the remainder of the series and into the early part of the 2010-2011 season.

In his absence, the Celtics bolstered their front line with Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal (no relation), along with rookie center Semih Erden.

That kind of depth made Perkins expendable, especially considering the glaring hole in the lineup behind Paul Pierce.

That's why the C's made the trade for Jeff Green, who was also at Saturday's charity game in which proceeds went to SPIN (Serving People in Need), Sojourner House and Crossroads Family Shelter.

While there's no mistaking that the trade worked out well for Perkins on a personal level - he received a four-year extension worth 33.5 million from the Thunder, which is more than he would have received from the C's - he readily admits that he still misses Boston.

"I hated to leave, but God does everything for a reason," Perkins said. "Boston and all the New England is still in my heart. It's just fun to be back."

It certainly looked like he was having fun, throwing down lob dunks, getting put-back baskets and from time to time, running the point guard position.

Perkins continues to show no signs that the surgery to repair his torn MCL and PCL.

"I just been rehabbing a lot, take a lot of pressure off my knees and go from there," Perkins said. "I thought the season would have started, but it hasn't yet. I'm just going to continue to work, and whenever the season start, just try to go from there."