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Perkins: James and Garnett ‘On the Same Level’

After playing with Kevin Garnett and LeBron James, Kendrick Perkins sees similarities between the two.



Kendrick Perkins played over three seasons with Kevin Garnett. During that time, LeBron James was enemy number one, the Boston Celtics’ biggest foe on the Cleveland Cavaliers as they fought to rule the Eastern Conference.

Four years later, that rival is now Perkins’ teammate. He sees similarities between his past and present team leaders.

“Him and KG are on the same level,” Perkins said. “They’re both so unselfish, it’s crazy. They [really like] making other people great. Then when you hear them talk outside of the court, it’s on a whole other level. They know their [stuff] front to back. LeBron could be a GM some day.”

Perkins didn’t know what to expect from James when he signed with the Cavaliers in February. They had battled in the playoffs during James’ first stint with the Cavaliers, facing off in the 2008 and 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals with the Celtics winning both intense series.

Perkins quickly realized the perception of James mirrored that of Garnett: dislike them as opponents, like them as teammates.

“That’s their competitive nature,” Perkins said. “But when I got over here, he (James) welcomed me with open arms.”

From Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen on the Celtics to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the Oklahoma City Thunder, Perkins has played alongside future Hall of Famers, MVPs and All-Stars throughout this career. He has seen dedication and commitment on the highest level, and James’ grind still stands out to him.

“Every day he carries himself as a professional – the way he takes care of his body, doing all the little things – and he punches in the clock,” Perkins said. “All the success you see on the court, there’s a lot of work behind the scenes … Catch him spending an hour-and-a-half daily, cold tub, massages, shots, he’s great. He’s [so] dominant that you’ve got to follow him … When he talks, everybody is like, ‘Ok, yes sir.’”

In addition to James’ 25.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game this season, Perkins has been impressed by his basketball IQ.

“I knew he was a great basketball player, but you’ve got to be around him to really respect his knowledge and his passion for the game,” Perkins said of James. “His knowledge is unbelievable. He’s really one of the smartest guys I’ve been around as far as knowing the game.”

This season Perkins will go into the playoffs with James, a change from their opposing matchups in the past. The difference between playing with James versus against him in the postseason is drastic yet easy for Perkins to appreciate.

“He’s on your side,” Perkins said with a laugh. “He’s just a great teammate.”

Jessica Camerato is a bilingual reporter who has been covering the NBA since 2006. She has also covered MLB, NHL and MLS. A graduate of Quinnipiac University, Jessica is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association and the Association for Women in Sports Media.

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