Kendrick Perkins

Don't be distracted by roadblocks to productive dialogue, nuanced conversation

Don't be distracted by roadblocks to productive dialogue, nuanced conversation

The ultimate goals, the basic expectations, are easy enough to see. Justice. Anti-racism. Equality. Love and respect for humanity.

Obvious and uncomplicated, right?

That’s why I’m surprised by some of the twisted things I’ve seen and heard in the last month and a half. It’s been about that long — seven weeks — since George Floyd pleaded for his life in Minneapolis, his neck pinned to the ground for nearly nine minutes under a police officer’s knee.

It was that recorded murder, thoughtless and merciless in high definition, that sparked historic protests here and abroad. Those marches were emphatic, multigenerational, multiethnic rebukes against abuse of power and injustice. Anyone exercising that abuse — and verbally or silently protecting it — is clearly the enemy.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

So how exactly did we get here?

In this climate, how does DeSean Jackson say he stands for love and unity yet get to a place where he’s producing multiple anti-Semitic posts on social media? Even worse, as he apologized for those hateful comments and tried to bury them, a former NBA player wouldn’t let him do it. Instead, Stephen Jackson retrieved them from the trash, gave them value, and added a wilder, more conspiratorial, anti-Semitic commentary on the wealthy Rothschild family.

Nothing good comes from reviving someone else’s deleted posts. And any conversation that leads us away from justice and toward a comparison of atrocities (1619 and the Holocaust) is destined to fall to pieces.

Jackson, a longtime friend of Floyd’s, was eloquent and thoughtful in the days after Floyd’s death. Kendrick Perkins remarked at the time that Jackson’s steadiness and passion seemed to be a divine “calling.” I could see what he meant. But seemingly hours after having that thought, I heard Jackson lecturing Stephen A. Smith because the commentator had the nerve to disagree with Kyrie Irving’s position on an NBA restart. Jackson told Smith that “no Black man” should say what Smith said. Then, condescendingly, he concluded that management — presumably white management — pulled some strings and turned Smith into a puppet.

Apparently, there is just one path to justice, and that single path doesn’t allow Black people to disagree with one another on layered issues. Even if the issue is basketball. Perkins learned that in a painful way when he, too, disagreed with Irving. When Kevin Durant saw Perkins’ criticism of Irving, he called his former teammate a “sell out.”

Justice. Anti-racism. Equality. Love and respect for humanity.

That still is the mission, right? Does it require us all to get there on the same ideological train? Do we all have to sound and think the same to arrive at a place where reasonable people all want to be?

In some ways, history has no precedent for what we’re seeing right now. Some data specialists and pollsters have suggested that the Black Lives Matter protests are the largest in the country’s history. While we haven’t seen that before, we can take some lessons from disagreements in the past. It’s certainly not new for passionate people of conscience to collide on strategy.

In her 2014 movie "Selma," filmmaker Ava DuVernay was able to capture an essential truth from a dramatization. Even as they agreed to march against racism and segregation in Alabama, there was tension between Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) and some members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). King’s group was seen as more deliberate while the youthful SNCC was more urgent.

Combined, the two groups produced some of the country’s most compelling leaders, drafted and ushered in groundbreaking legislation, and organized protests that we still discuss today, including the March on Washington.

King, a Christian, often had sharp philosophical differences with Malcolm X, a Muslim. One man gave us a “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” while the other left a piece of his soul with his autobiography. I can’t begin to count the times I’ve gained insight, and wisdom, from both over the years.

In some ways, clearly, it’s harder to be nuanced with different opinions — or to listen to them at all — today. While the immediacy of social media is its strength and allowed the world to see the Floyd video, it’s the immediacy of our platforms that often derails conversations before we give them context and allow them to develop.

A perfect example from the last seven weeks is the warp speed with which Drew Brees’ image was recreated. He shared his opinion on kneeling for the flag, and I disagreed with what he had to say. But I still wanted to hear him and understand his reasoning. If I were his teammate, I’d be eager to do that away from social media so I could have an authentic — and likely uncomfortable — conversation with him in private.

You know by now that two of his higher-profile teammates, Michael Thomas and Malcolm Jenkins, initially did the opposite. I saw a video where Thomas was applauded for his actions by ... Stephen Jackson.

Meanwhile, it’s been nearly four months since three plainclothes police officers in Louisville entered Breonna Taylor’s apartment after midnight and killed her. She was shot eight times. It was supposedly a drug raid, but there were no drugs. Just a 26-year-old EMT and her boyfriend. No one has been charged with murder.

The enemies are still out there. Let’s keep our eyes on the ultimate prize.

Celtics at Home: Why Kendrick Perkins thinks Celtics will reach NBA Finals in 2020

Celtics at Home: Why Kendrick Perkins thinks Celtics will reach NBA Finals in 2020

"You can call me a homer if you want, but here's why I'm rolling with the Boston Celtics."

In a little over a month, 22 NBA teams will restart the 2019-20 schedule in Orlando with an eight-game sprint to the playoffs — and Kendrick Perkins thinks that Brad Stevens' club is in prime position to emerge from the Eastern Conference to reach the NBA Finals.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

On the latest episode of "Celtics @ Home" (which you can watch on YouTube), Perkins explained a number of reasons why he loves Boston's chances in the East.

Kemba Walker: "At the start of the season, he was playing at an MVP-type level. After the All-Star break, he injured his knee and he wasn't the same. Well guess what? He's had more than enough time to rehab and rest."

Jayson Tatum: "He's been getting better and better by the month of this year, almost to the point where we consider him a Top 10-type player in the NBA. One of the best scorers in the league, he has zero flaws. He'll be a future MVP of the league in the next two years, mark my words."

Jaylen Brown: "He's one of the best two-way players in the NBA today. He can get you 20 points a night on 50 percent shooting and he locks down on the other end."

Marcus Smart: "Remember when I told you if you see him in a fight with a bear, you need to help the bear? That's true."

Perkins also praised Gordon Hayward for finding his rhythm, especially when the Celtics go small, and also likes what Daniel Theis ("He's been protecting the rim, and I love the way he can switch out on 1 through 5's") and Enes Kanter ("He steps up when people call him out") bring to the table up front.

DraftKings Sportsbook lists the C's with the second-best odds to win the East (+700, tied with the Raptors and behind the Bucks at -165), but Chris Mannix sees one big problem for the Celtics when the games finally resume.

"Would you agree that three-point shooting is going to be bad when they come back?" Mannix asked Perkins. "A lot of these guys haven't shot threes all that much. How many months did Jayson Tatum go without even picking up a basketball? I don't believe that these guys can come back and start looking like the same perimeter shooting team they were going into the pandemic."

So who does Mannix see winning the East? A team that doesn't rely on three-point shooting and can lock other teams down defensively.

"I am going to bet all the money in my pocket... that Philadelphia wins the Eastern Conference," Mannix added. "Philadelphia will grind it out, they'll win games 90-86 like they did back in the mid-1990s, and they will shut things down defensively with (Ben) Simmons, Josh Richardson and Joel Embiid."

Listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast:

But Perk wasn't buying any of that reasoning, citing the 76ers' woeful road record (10-24 away from the Wells Fargo Center) and the "horrible" coaching of Brett Brown. 

So which team will go further in the playoffs? We might not need to wait long to find out. If the playoffs started today, the Celtics and Sixers would match up in the first round.

Watch the full episode of "Celtics @ Home" on YouTube or below. This week's episode also includes Brian Scalabrine and Kyle Draper discussing the NBA bubble, Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn on the continued improvement of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and a new segment of "Celtics Census" with Abby Chin and Kendrick Perkins taking on the father-son duo of Austin and Danny Ainge.

Celtics at Home: Kendrick Perkins reacts to Kyrie Irving changing his mind about Orlando

Celtics at Home: Kendrick Perkins reacts to Kyrie Irving changing his mind about Orlando

Kyrie Irving isn't going to play for the Brooklyn Nets if the NBA season does resume in Florida as planned next month, but he's still found a way to be a part of the story.

Irving reportedly has been a "driving force" in raising concerns over the league's bubble plan. The league is bringing back 22 teams, including the Nets, to Walt Disney World in July to play eight more regular season (seeding) games in addition to a normal four-round playoffs. 

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

One of Irving's reported concerns about the league's return, one that is shared by other players including Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley, is that playing basketball again would take attention away from the national conversation on systemic racism and police brutality. Many players from the NBA -- including Celtics guards Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart -- and other sports have participated in peaceful protests and led the call for change over the last few weeks following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis last month.

"I don’t support going into Orlando," Irving recently told players on a call, per The Athletic's Shams Charania. "I’m not with the systematic racism and the bulls---. … Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up."

Former Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, who played with Irving for a brief time on the Cleveland Cavaliers, has not been shy about responding to his former teammate. He joined the latest episode of NBC Sports Boston's "Celtics at Home" and discussed the issue further.

"I don't have a problem with anyone who's trying to make a stand for civil rights and change in America. But it's not what you do, it's how you do it," Perkins said. "It's been months of conversation. Kyrie Irving is a vice president in the players association. So he's been on conference calls. He's been in the mix. He's had more than enough time to voice his opinion, whether or not he thinks we should resume playing basketball. In these conversations with some of our leaders, like (NBPA) president Chris Paul and a lot of other powerful guys in the league -- LeBron James, Anthony Davis, the list goes on -- they all were on a phone conversation several times and everyone agreed that basketball needed to come back. They wanted basketball back, including Kyrie. 

"Here's my thing. During that time, where were you at then? That was the time to speak up. Because now what happened is that last week Kyrie reached out to the players association and asked them, hey, can inactive players travel? I want to be with my team and be part of the team. He was asking to go to Orlando. Now all of a sudden, they tell him no, inactive players can't go. Now all of a sudden you change your mind. My problem with it -- is it coming from a genuine place? I'm not questioning where his heart is, but, to me, it's just stirring the pot, and it's dividing the players association, and that's not a good thing right now."

Check out the full conversation with Perkins, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix and NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin on the latest episode of "Celtics at Home", which can be watched in its entirety in the video below. Be sure to also check out previous episodes on the NBC Sports Boston YouTube page.