Perhaps no other team in Celtics history connected with the fanbase and had the success to go along with it as the 2008 squad did. Led by Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics went from one of the worst teams in the NBA to the champs in one year.
It’s difficult for fans to fall in love with a team with as much roster turnover as the 2008 team had, but Boston fell for them and they fell hard. One of the fan favorites of that team was Kendrick Perkins, the bruising defensive center starting next to Garnett in the frontcourt. Together, they anchored the best defense in the league that season.
At least one more title was supposed to follow 2008, but injuries to Garnett in 2009 and Perkins in 2010 kept Boston from reaching the mountaintop again while their window was still open.
In 2011, Danny Ainge traded Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic. Perkins was due a contract extension the Celtics weren’t prepared to give him, so they opted for a younger wing in Green to add some athleticism and scoring to the Celtics.
The core of the team did not take it well though. On the latest episode of The Woj Pod, Perkins detailed how Pierce, Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Doc Rivers reacted to the news.
“I go to Doc’s room, me and him both cry like babies,” Perkins said. “Then I go to KG’s room, we cry like babies. I go to Paul’s room, we cry like babies. Rondo’s like, “F— this s–t, I’m retiring.’ I was like, ‘Nah, bro, you can’t do that.’ He’s like, “Nah, man, this is some bulls–t, man, they traded my best friend.’”
It just goes to show you how close that group was. Rondo was 25 years old, just entering his prime and the thought of playing without Perkins on his team drove him to think about retirement.
Perkins went on to play for three seasons with the Thunder before wrapping up his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jeff Green played about two-and-a-half seasons with the Celtics before he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for a first round pick Boston still has the rights to. It’s conceivable the pick could be used in an Anthony Davis trade.
Photo credit: Sports Illustrated