Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins rips ‘Last Dance,’ says he’s glad Michael Jordan isn’t his GOAT

Kendrick Perkins rips ‘Last Dance,’ says he’s glad Michael Jordan isn’t his GOAT

On the off-chance you haven’t had enough of the 2008 Celtics, Kendrick Perkins is at it again.

The topic: Fresh audio that proved Michael Jordan specifically requested Isiah Thomas be left off the 1992 Dream Team, despite Jordan denying such allegations in ESPN’s “The Last Dance.”

“Free Zeke! What is the problem with Isiah Thomas? Isiah Thomas is a great individual, and to me, you know what it is? They had a problem with Isiah Thomas’ competitive nature. He was the ultimate competitor, that’s the only way I see them keeping him off the Dream Team, saying they didn’t want to play with him,” Perkins said in a recent appearance on ESPN’s First Take.

Of course, the conversation pivoted to a pinch of “The Last Dance” talk. You can guess the direction that went in.

“‘The Last (Dance) documentary was the best sports documentary that I ever saw,” Perkins said, “but one thing I took away from it: it was full of lies, and it was full of snitching. 

“And when we look at Michael Jordan — and I’m glad he’s not my GOAT, LeBron James is my GOAT, but that’s y’all’s GOAT — he lied, he threw everybody under the bus at the end of the day. ‘The Last Dance’ was to make MJ look like a superhero and make everybody else look like a villain…

“... at the end of the day, I’m just happy LeBron James is my GOAT.”

All in a day’s work for Perkins, who hasn’t been shy in criticizing Jordan and the documentary at every turn.

RELATED: How Michael Jordan, Bulls executed impromptu switch from No. 45 to 23 

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Kendrick Perkins: Michael Jordan ‘broke every player code’ in ‘Last Dance'

Kendrick Perkins: Michael Jordan ‘broke every player code’ in ‘Last Dance'

In the wake of “The Last Dance,” ex-teammates and compatriots of Michael Jordan have come out hard against the manner in which some of the events of the Bulls’ dynasty were portrayed in the documentary.

Horace Grant called it a lie that he was the lone source for “The Jordan Rules” (which Sam Smith, who authored the book, corroborated). Craig Hodges (along with Grant) called Jordan out for openly discussing the Bulls’ “Traveling Cocaine Circus” anecdote in Episode 1. Ron Harper insinuated that Jordan’s reputation as a tyrannical teammate was exaggerated.

Kendrick Perkins, while lacking any association with those Bulls teams, played 14 years in the NBA and took it upon himself to criticize the way the Jordan-sanctioned documentary characterized his teammates in a recent appearance on ESPN’s The Jump.

 

“When you look at ‘The Last Dance,’ the whole documentary, it made Michael Jordan look like a superhero, and it made everybody else look like a villain,” Perkins said. “Michael Jordan broke every player code imaginable… Some of the things he was saying with Scott Burrell, saying that he was in the club every night. Talking about what Horace Grant said about guys doing drugs, everyone except for him (Jordan). And then, ‘The Last Dance’ hurt Scottie Pippen. People today are looking at Scottie Pippen like a selfish individual.

“At the end of the day, ‘The Last Dance’ was to praise Mike — which it should have been — but you didn’t have to tear down other people to praise your greatness, because your greatness alone speaks volumes for itself.”

Longtime NBA reporter Jackie MacMullan, also on The Jump panel, elucidated how some former teammates of Jordan felt watching the documentary based on conversations she’s had.

“When they heard ‘The Last Dance,’ they were thinking, ‘Oh, it’s about our team,’” MacMullan said. “Well, no, it’s about one of the more compelling athletes who ever lived, it’s mostly about Michael. So I think some of them felt duped right from the get-go.

“Everybody’s truths are different… We could put five NBA players in a room and ask them to recount something that happened 20 years ago, and we’d get five different stories. That’s just how it works. Everybody remembers it a certain way relative to themselves, oftentimes. And I think that’s some of what we’re saying here.”

Jordan indeed had editorial control over the documentary, a condition necessary to gaining interview access to him and unlocking the behind-the-scenes footage captured by the NBA from the 1997-98 season. ESPN agreed to that trade-off, and to great success. The ramifications are on full display as the dust settles.

But, as The Jump host Rachel Nichols says at the end of the segment: “History is written by the victors, Michael Jordan was the ultimate victor.”

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Kendrick Perkins lays out his thoughts on the Bulls in radio interview

Kendrick Perkins lays out his thoughts on the Bulls in radio interview

It’s safe to say Bulls fans — supporters of a team currently in the midst of a five-game losing streak and 12 games under .500 — are itching for a fresh perspective.

Enter: Kendrick Perkins. The 14-year NBA vet and one-time NBA champion has forged a new path for himself as a national ESPN pundit, capitalizing on the trademark brashness that made him a polarizing figure throughout his playing career.

Thursday morning, Perkins dipped into the local Chicago waters, joining the Mully & Haugh Show on 670 The Score to talk Bulls basketball. They touched on a wide range of topics in the interview, all topics undoubtedly on the minds of every pocket of the Bulls’ fanbase. Let’s run through them.

On accountability for the Bulls’ malaise

Obviously, the team’s current 13-25 record isn’t ideal, especially considering the playoff expectations set by the organization before the season. But worse is that the Bulls have both played one of the easiest schedules in the league to this point and the second most ‘clutch’ games, defined by NBA.com as contests within a five-point margin with five minutes or less to play. The Bulls are 8-16 in ‘clutch’ games.

“The Bulls are going out there, and they’re competing at a high level,” Perkins told 670, specifically citing the team's recent 102-98 loss to the Jazz as an example. “I always look at the bench, I look at the camaraderie, I look to see if guys actually enjoy playing with one another. And I don’t think it’s necessarily the guys don’t like playing with each other. I think it’s just that the guys, they’re going out there and they’re playing hard but they’re not having fun.”

That much is widely agreed upon. The Bulls do play hard, but that hasn’t translated in the win column, as of late. Perkins lamented coaching as a primary factor in that perceived lack of ‘fun.’

“I don’t see jumping up and down from the bench, I don’t see guys chest-bumping or nothing to that nature,” Perkins said. “To me, it falls back on the coach. Because him building that high school type atmosphere, culture, the guys are not having fun. And I know it’s a job and we get paid millions of dollars to play the game of basketball, and we’re supposed to take it serious. But at the end of the day you’re also supposed to enjoy this, you’re supposed to love this.”

On Zach LaVine as a No. 1 option

Perkins commended LaVine as a “great talent” and dude that “can play” in the interview. Fact check: Also true. LaVine is currently averaging the highest points per game (23.9) and 3-point percentage (39.2% on 7.8 attempts per) figures of his career, and has closed out many of the Bulls’ 13 victories. He also sits fifth in the Eastern Conference backcourt fan voting for All-Star starters (not ideal, but not terrible either).

But Perk said he’s not sold on him as a No. 1 option that can be viably built around.

“To me, in my opinion, he’s not a Batman. He’s a Robin,” Perkins said. “I’d take him as my second-best player, though, second or third option guy. But to say, hey, I’m gonna build around Zach LaVine? I don’t know. Even though he’s stepped up in crucial moments, he has those games where goes missing. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t say Chicago is a playoff team if they’re building around Zach LaVine.”

On Lauri Markkanen as a No. 2

If LaVine is a Robin in Perkins’ eyes, where does that leave Markkanen?

“He’s not a No. 2. He’s a great guy that could give you 15 points, you know, 6 or 7 rebounds a night, that’s more like a third or fourth option type guy,” Perkins told 670. “What ended up happening with him was, you know, it’s different when you’re the hunter and when you start being hunted. He snuck up on a lot of people when he first came into the NBA, meaning he probably wasn’t in the scouting report, guys weren’t keying in on him.

“It’s different when, pregame, when teams are in their meetings, and they’re starting to, you know, hey, look, we gotta close out on this guy, we gotta take away his 3, we gotta take him out the game. When you can go out there and then you can counter and still do put up numbers? That’s what separates you.”

To his point, Markkanen’s minutes, scoring, shooting percentages and shot attempts are all down this year after an encouraging sophomore campaign. He has looked better since the start of the December, but evidently, not better enough to win Perkins over.

On Coby White’s place with the team

Perkins lit up when White was brought up. This was probably the most impassioned he got in the segment, lamenting White’s current role as the Bulls’ sixth-man.

“I don’t see how this kid not starting, in my opinion. I mean, I don’t understand how you draft a guy so high in the lottery — I mean, to me, the Bulls are not going anywhere this season, so at least, let the kid play,” Perkins said. “Hand this kid the keys and let him go out there and do him and let him get all the time, all the reps, all the experience that he needs his rookie season.”

He later followed up on Twitter to really assert his point:

 

Perkins might not be the hero Chicago needs or deserves, but many aggrieved by the Bulls’ woes will certainly appreciate his candor.

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