By A.Sherrod Blakely
DENVER As the Boston Celtics boarded their team bus to Denver's Pepsi Arena, Kendrick Perkins found himself in an unfamiliar role as a spectator.
This is what happens when you're part of a trade on a game night.
"It's tough man; real tough," Perkins said in a phone interview with CSNNE.com shortly after he was shipped off to Oklahoma City along with Nate Robinson.
Perkins has never been one to keep his emotions bottled up.
When he's angry, you knew it by the scowl or the mean-muggin' face that he would make.
When he was happy, there was a smile that came around a lot more than people realize.
And then there was Thursday afternoon, a day of sadness unlike anything Perkins had ever experienced.
"There was a lot of crying, lot of hugging going on," said Perkins. "And a lot of it was me."
Kevin Garnett usually has a somber-like demeanor, win or lose.
But following Thursday's 89-75 loss to Denver, it was clear that Garnett, much like the rest of the Celtics, were still trying to make sense out of the trade that landed them Jeff Green (a former Celtics draft pick) and Nenad Krstic.
"It's not even about a teammate. It felt like you lost a family member today," Garnett said. "Tough day."
The trade really puts to the test just how much these players believe in their head coach, Doc Rivers, and Danny Ainge, the team's president of basketball operations.
"The only thing is, you hope that Danny and Doc know what they're doing," Pierce said. "We trust in them. It is what it is. We can't use any excuses, cry over spilled milk. Hopefully the guys we have coming in here and understand what we're trying to do, is championship goals."
Even before tip-off, it was clear that things were different -- and not in a good way for the Celtics.
The C's locker room is usually a boisterous place with various forms of music blasting through earphones.
On Thursday, the room was dominated by the sound of silence; the kind of silence you expect at a wake or funeral.
As they tried to come to grips with the reality that Perkins was gone, he was back at the hotel, wishing he could play with his "brothers" one more time.
"I miss them," Perkins said. "I ain't gonna lie. I'm gonna miss the hell out of them. It's going to be hard leaving them behind, leaving this team behind and the fans and this city. But this is a business, and being traded is part of that business."
He joins an Oklahoma City team that has a pair of All-Stars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
But what has been missing in the Thunder's quest to be a title contender, is a physical enforcer-type who does a lot of the dirty work and does it well.
Enter Kendrick Perkins.
"That is one of the good things about all this," he said. "I'm going to a good team, a young team, but a good team. And from what I've been told, they wanted me pretty bad. That's always a good feeling, to be wanted."
The Celtics certainly wanted to keep him long term when they offered him a four-year contract extension worth about 22 million.
Perkins will likely play well enough to earn a much higher salary, which was among the reasons why he turned down the C's offer.
Even though Perkins and the Celtics were unable to come to terms on a contract extension, he is quick to say he has no ill will towards the organization or any of his teammates.
"Like I said earlier, I love this team and I love those fellas," Perkins said. "I'm playing for another team now, but I'm always going to pull for them when I see them play. We're brothers. That's never going to change."