Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My sister and Kendrick Perkins: birds of a feather.

Perk's standing ovation

At one time or another, every person in my immediate family has been a teacher. I live with my sister, and she teaches 6th grade. She's up and out of the door every day by 6:30 AM. Her job doesn't end at 3:00, when the bell rings. To be honest, for a good teacher, the work never ends. My sister is constantly on the job, whether she's talking to parents on the phone, or carefully preparing lesson plans that will both interest and challenge her students, or bringing her students to cultural and recreational events in her free time, to help expose them to things that they would otherwise miss out on. It's a grind. She's been a teacher for 8 years, and she still strives to be better, still works to connect with each and every one of her students. She's kept in touch with students from her first year of teaching, and receives requests from students she hasn't taught for years to write college recommendation letters. I've seen first hand how challenging- and rewarding- the job is, and I don't think teachers get enough recognition for all that they do and for the sacrifices that they make. I can't tell you how many people I've heard claim that teachers have it easy, because they get vacations off and all they have to do is hang out with kids.

Those are probably the same people who say that Kendrick Perkins sucks... And I can't tell you how many times I've heard that. Maybe that has to do with the fact that I used to live in New York, but still. I've heard it said many times that Perk is a trash basketball player. Bob Ryan wrote quite eloquently on the big man in this mornings Globe:

"From the time he arrived here more than seven years ago as an unpolished gem of a prospect out of Clifton J. Ozen High School in Beaumont, Texas, Perkins has never been afraid of work. He has gone from a kid Rivers had no intention of playing to a member of a starting five that can claim never to have lost a playoff series when fully intact. He doesn’t have the name or the finesse of Garnett, Pierce, Allen, or Rondo, but he provides the gristle without which the Celtics cannot fully function.
'We have kind of been, I don’t know what words to use, but less than ourselves over the three or four months that we have been together, just waiting,' said Allen. 'We have had great success with the guys we’ve been using, but we haven’t had the lineup that has been consistent in the past 3 1/2 years where we have won some big games, including a championship. It was great to see him back on the floor.'
Kendrick Perkins wasn’t supposed to be back until after the All-Star Game, remember? That’s all he had to hear." 

I don't think you can fully grasp just how good Kendrick Perkins is, and how important he is to this team, without consistently watching the Celtics. Sure, the casual viewer can claim that the Celtics may have won Game 7 of the Finals if Perk had been on the floor... but you won't understand unless you've seen how this team plays with him on the floor, and how they play without him. It's not that they're not good without him, because they obviously are. Perk is not a guy that's going to awe you with flashy play, and he won't floor you with his athleticism. You might not be able to point at one thing he did during the game and pinpoint it as a game changer... But that's because it's everything that he does. He leaves it all on the floor, night in and night out. He scares the other team out of the paint, battles under the basket for boards that other players miss out on because they don't want to take the beating it takes to get them (shout out to Luke Harangody for following in Perk's footsteps in this venture), and doesn't worry about scoring. He scores when he can, when he's open, or he'll muscle one up under the basket. He allows the Celtics to go with single coverage on guys that most other teams have to double up on, a la Dwight Howard. And he does it all with one facial expression. 

My sister gets to school at least an hour early everyday to make sure that her classroom is 100 percent ready for her students. She often can't sleep at night, because her brain refuses to stop working, won't give her a break from thinking about how to become better and how to best reach her students. Perk was on a similar grind, clocking some serious time in the gym, allowing him to make this early comeback. The night before his return, he was in the gym until 1 AM, and couldn't sleep when he got home, he was so caught up in the anticipation of making his return. So maybe it's corny, but Perk, for doing all of the garbage work that nobody celebrates and for being involved in every aspect of the game and refusing to ever give up, is like a good teacher.

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