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'Curse of the Perkino' rears ugly head again

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan  June 10, 2012 10:13 AM

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Kendrick Perkins (Getty).png"The Curse of the Bambino" began on Dec. 26, 1919 and lasted 84 years, 10 months and 1 day.

"The Curse of the Andino" sprung to life in the wee minutes of Sept. 29, 2011. Its next scheduled appearance is scheduled for Aug. 14, weather permitting.

"The Curse of the Perkino" enters stage three Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on ABC when Oklahoma City faces Miami in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Much deserved praise has been heaped upon the Celtics for their performance these past eight weeks. Now comes the painful recriminations of what should have been. Celtics fans went through this last year at this time. Yes, there may be nothing constructive to be gained from this exercise in re-hashing history. But sometimes, you just have to get this stuff out of your system.

"The Perkins Trade" has reached improper-noun status in Celtic Nation. For the record, Danny Ainge swapped Kendrick Perkins (along with Nate Robinson) for Jeff Green and the legendary Nenad Krstic on Feb. 24, 2011. In the wake of Boston's second-straight elimination by Miami and the rise of Oklahoma City to the finals, this deal has solidified its hold on top of any "Worst-Ever Celtics Trade" list. It definitely hurts the worst right now. Anytime you call something the "best" or "worst" it's open to debate. Maybe Danny Ainge can move Rajon Rondo for Larry Andersen or Danny Cater to dislodge himself from first place.

There's plenty of tall competition there. But "The Perkins Trade" stands alone because of its destructive effect on that infamous "Undefeated Starting Five." The Paul Westphal/Charlie Scott swap comes close, since Westphal was a pivotal bench-player on the 1974 championship Celtics. He almost single-handedly beat Boston in that epic Game 5 in 1976 before the Celtics defeated his Suns for their lucky 13th championship in six games. Meanwhile, the Perkins-less Core Four are about to be dismantled in the wake of their second-straight failure against the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Joe Johnson and Chauncey Billups fiascos were decidedly more lopsided and equally as infamous, but neither one of those players played on a banner-hoister in Boston nor would have been a key to another. The Ainge trade, the one included himself, Joe Kleine and others, meant the end to the starting five that had prevailed in 1986. But that team was in steep decline well before the deal occurred.

"The Perkins Trade" was a strategic miscalculation along the lines of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (and Walt Wesley) for three nobodies and Junior Bridgeman. In Danny's defense, Perk is no Kareem. And he's not going to carry the Thunder past Miami but he would have been the difference for the Celtics - again this year. (In Milwaukee's defense, Kareem demanded his deal.)

Perkins never made such a request. Neither did his teammates. Or even his coach. Working with the blessing of ownership, Ainge dealt Perkins, the team's starting center no less, and forever scrambled the chemistry and physcial make-up of a championship-ready starting-five unit that had never lost a playoff series. (Garnett missed the 2009 playoff run ended by Orlando due to his sprained right knee. Perkins tore his right ACL in Game 6 against the Lakers in 2010 and helplessly watched that Game 7 collapse with the rest of us.)

The rationalization of the Perkins' trade was simple enough: Perk's contract was expiring at the end of that season and his knees were questionable. He strained his left MCL a few days before the deal. But this was no draft-day deal or swap of prospects, Perkins was deemed expendable after nearly eight seasons in Celtic green.

Ainge's explanation for blowing up a team that didn't need blowing up:

"First of all, we were leading the conference because of Shaq. We had a better record with Shaq than we did with Perk. Our offense was better and our defense was at least the same. I don't think Perk is Perk yet. I hope that he becomes that for Oklahoma City's sake ... We think that by adding Jeff Green (Green had 21 against the Warriors last Friday), Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy, we think we're a better team than we were. Shaq was starting for us when we had the great run this year. Baby [Glen Davis] was finishing for us. So we basically lost middle minutes." - Danny Ainge, as told to Dan Shaughnessy in Sports Illustrated, March 7, 2011.

Depending on Shaq to fill the gap was a Shaquillian-sized mistake. Sure, Shaq was playing great that February, but titles are won in May and June. Even Shaq himself thought at much at the time.

Criticism of "The Perkins Trade" became unfashionable the wake of Green's heart ailment. This isn't so much about what the Celtics got in return for Perkins but what they gave up. And this deal was a gigantic flop the minute it cleared the league office. The deal was ripped early and often by people like this guy, this guy and, finally, this idiot. (Apologies for the audio but it was from way back in 2011.)

Like so many other disastrous deals, "The Perkins Trade" continues to get worse with age, especially in Boston. It might not even crack "The Top 10 Best Things" ever to happen to the Seattle/Oklahoma City franchise, which does include the Sonics' winning the 1979 NBA title, Portland taking Greg Oden with the first pick in 2007, the move to OKC and Shawn Kemp finally discovering contraception. This franchise dealt away Dennis Johnson (to Phoenix) and Ray Allen, both of whom drove Boston to championships. Maybe "The Perkins Deal" is nothing but Karma showing her nasty side. Perk, who is averaging 26.7 minutes, 4.7 points and 6 rebounds in the playoffs, gives Celtics fans extra incentive (as if they needed it) to clap for Thunder against the Heat.

Who would have thought that Perkins would make it back to the NBA Finals before his former championship-winning starting teammates? Certainly not Ainge. Definitely not Perkins, who sulked about the deal along with his former teammates long after it happened. The Thunder center said Saturday he had dreamed about playing the Celtics in the finals this year. Who won? "I don’t know, I woke up. Real talk, I woke up so I don’t know. That’s a hard question," he said.

Ainge was certainly dreaming when he made "The Perkins Trade."

And the nightmare continues for the Celtics.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

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