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Kendrick Perkins: ‘I’m just really glad it’s over’

After playing his first game against his former teammates since being traded for Jeff Green [1] last February, Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins [2] didn’t hesitate when asked if part of him still felt like a Celtic.

“Yeah,” said Perkins, the C’s starting center during the 2008 NBA title and 2010 NBA Finals [3] runs. “I mean, I have much love and I’€™m greatly appreciative about being in Oklahoma and stuff like that — I love Oklahoma — but being here for eight years and winning a championship, it’€™s hard to replace it. Just from what I learned, it’€™s still got a special place in my heart here. That’€™s all it is.’€

A night that included a Jumbotron montage in his honor [4] and a rousing standing ovation from the Garden crowd clearly affected Perkins, who finished with seven points and five rebounds in a 97-88 Oklahoma City victory. Here’s what he had to say in his postgame press conference.

On his expectations: ‘€œI was confused since yesterday. I really didn’€™t know what to expect. Mentally, I was just out of it. I didn’€™t know whether to shoot the ball, pass the ball, hug the other guy. I didn’€™t know what to do, so I’€™m just really glad it’€™s over. I’€™m just glad we play in two different conferences, so I don’€™t have to keep going through this emotional breakdown.’€

On the montage: “That was unbelievable. I really appreciate it. I say this time and again: I really appreciate the whole city of Boston, the whole Celtics [5] organization, just the way they embraced me from the time I came out of high school to who I developed [into] as a player now. I just want to let them know I greatly appreciate everything. This is something they didn’€™t have to do. It’€™s not like I was around here just putting up boku numbers or something like that, so they didn’€™t have to do that. I’€™m not taking it for granted.’€

On moving on: “You still have it in your mind that you still have this bond with a group of guys that you bonded with through a championship and [you have] a lot of mentors. It’€™s hard. It ain’€™t like something you can just let go. It’€™s definitely a difficult situation.’€

On matching up against Kevin Garnett [6]: ‘€œHe took a charge. That was probably the first charge of his career, so I was like, ‘€˜Ah, man, you know you don’€™t take charges,’€™ and he was like, ‘€˜I got one, finally I got one.’€™ He just had to get one on me. That’€™s all it was. It wasn’€™t nothing else.’€

On familiarity with the Celtics [7]: ‘€œI was calling their plays out today. I was just all messed up in the head out there today. Basketball-wise, I really wasn’€™t into the game today, to be honest with you.’€

On the Celtics’ slump: ‘€œI know right know they’€™re struggling, but they have guys over there that have been playing 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 years in the league — really, I mean, honestly — so one thing I know about them as the season goes on, they’€™re just going to get better as far as in shape and stuff like that. So, you can’€™t ever count them out.

“I know they’€™re not worrying about where they’€™re seeded or anything like that. I just know they’€™re going to get in the playoffs, and when they do they’€™re going to make noise. They got too much talent, they’€™re well-coached, too much experience — they’€™re a team that’€™s going to turn it up.

“Whether they get in at the eighth or seventh seed, it probably don’€™t even matter to them, but you’€™ll see come late February they’€™re going to run off 11 or 12 in a row. It’€™ll be back to the old days.’€

On fouling Rajon Rondo [8]: “He was coming at me full speed. I was really just trying to wrap him up, but he was coming so fast, I tried to wrap him up, but he slipped out of my hands. It wasn’€™t anything like I was trying to do something crazy to him, but I couldn’€™t let him score on me.”

On facing the Big Four: “The crazy part is that I never played against them in practice, so I never played against KG or Paul [Pierce] or Ray [Allen] or Rondo. Being on the other end, you see how valuable they really are and why they are who they are. What they bring to the table, as far as Paul, Ray, KG, Rondo, all them guys, what they bring to the table is amazing.”