Kendrick Perkins was immediately able to draw parallels between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Garnett after his trade to the Thunder.
Kevin Garnett knows a thing or two about intensity on the basketball court. The first-ballot Hall of Famer is the NBA’s poster child for raw, unfiltered aggression on the court.
However you tried to rile up the Big Ticket, he’d hit you psychologically with a piece of trash talk that’d make you doubt yourself. Garnett got into his opponents’ heads like few others in league history.
Westbrook seems to be cut from the same cloth as Garnett. This becomes most apparent especially when you look at how he carries himself on the court. You can sense the confidence in him even though you’re watching him on a screen.
Perkins has first-hand experience of playing with both of them for 3 years apiece. He understands how the superstars are mentally different from the role players in a squad, and how the league’s superstars are different from the average franchise piece.
The Boston Celtics and OKC Thunder exchanged Jeff Green and Kendrick Perkins midway through 2010-11. This was viewed as a win-win trade at the time.
Kendrick Perkins compared Russell Westbrook to Kevin Garnett in his first few weeks at OKC
Green was supposed to be the young wing talent capable of taking the mantle of the Celtics’ Big 3. Big Perk, meanwhile, was acquired by Presti to shore up the team defensively and give them a physical edge.
At that point, Perkins was a 7-year NBA veteran who’d mostly been a backup big man at Boston. But coach Scott Brooks entrusted him a starting role and transformed the team’s defensive identity for the first few years.
Perkins was one of Garnett’s favorite wards in his time with Boston. Naturally, KG called him up within a week of his trade to enquire how Big Perk was holding up.
Perkins recalls waxing lyrical about the Thunder’s young guns, but especially about Westbrook. In his eyes, the Brody was pretty much a smaller version of Garnett:
“I just remember telling him, I was like, ‘Man, Russell Westbrook is just a smaller version of you as far as his mentality.”
“You have those certain guys where you just walk into an arena and you have that comfort of knowing that we’re gonna win this game or we’re gonna have a chance of winning this game because of him.”
“Westbrook gave us swagger. They have that old saying where, ‘If you see him in a fight with a bear, to help the bear.’ I changed it up with him where I was like, ‘Pour the honey on Russ because after he finish spanking up on that bear he’s gonna want other bears to come so he can whoop them too.’”