Who was that guy playing center for Boston against Portland and Indiana?
I didn't recognize him.
The jersey number was the same--43.
But where was the scowl?
The menacing gestures?
By the end of the game, I half-expected the guy to turn up one side of his mouth, if not both, you know, as if to smile.
We've seen a different Kendrick Perkins the last three games, and while some may argue that this simply reflects the disincentives from earning nine technicals in sixteen games, I say something more is going on.
Remember, this is a guy who "gets the hate on" before he even rolls out of bed in the morning. Larry Bird and Kevin McHale liked to say one reason they played so hard was that they manufactured reasons to dislike an opponent. Kendrick Perkins takes this animosity to a new level.
Which brings me back to my original point: What happened to the guy we've come to know and love for the past six seasons?
I think I figured it out. The Celtics hired a jury consultant. One of those people paid to employ a panel of mock jurors so the consultant can observe their behavior and advise the attorneys how to behave in front of them.
In Perkins' case, the consultant would be someone who's job it is to sit down and watch tape with Kendrick and show him the facial expressions and other gestures that get him off on the wrong foot with refs. Then that consultant attends practice and watches Kendrick.
Quickly the consultant sees something he doesn't like.
"No!" The consultant shouts. "You can't make that face, Kendrick."
"Nope, you can't make that one either. "
"And those arms up in the air? No, no, and no!"
"Whoa! That kind of talk is definitely off limits."
Then the consultant sits down with the big guy, and works on more socially acceptable ways to express his frustration and angst. I believe the experts call this "sublimation."
Whatever it is, someone or something has gotten to Kendrick. We'll see how long it lasts. But I'm encouraged that the change in behavior has had no impact on his performance.