The Boston Celtics faced off against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. It was a fun game that ultimately ended in a Celtics' victory, but it was a very big night for one individual in particular: Kendrick Perkins. The former Celtics center made his color commentating debut on NBC Sports Boston with Kyle Draper as the play-by-play man and fellow former Celtic Brian Scalabrine as his color partner-- and he wasn't half-bad!
The man affectionately known as Perk up in New England has started to make more TV appearances over the last few months, including some air time on ESPN's The Jump. His oversized personality makes for an entertaining watch on a show like that, but commentating over the course of 150 minutes is a different animal. I was surprised to find he was on the broadcast when I tuned in last night, and was quite interested to see how it turned out.
First, the positives. Perkins clearly has a lot to offer to the broadcast when it comes to knowledge of the game, like many former players. Many former players, however, struggle to communicate that knowledge in the short timeframe required from color commentators. Perkins didn't have much trouble with that; his discussions on Daniel Theis' defensive positioning and how Grant Williams drifting four feet outside the paint instead of three prevented Kristaps Porzingis from doubling Enes Kanter in time were insightful moments.
As a center who was on an NBA roster as recently as 2017, he has different thoughts to offer than a former guard like Reggie Miller or a big man from the 2000s like Chris Webber. He was also appropriately excited during the big moments in the game, which is more than acceptable for a regional broadcast network. He unashamedly called out the refs in the spirit of longtime C's commentator Tommy Heinsohn, which endears him to everyone in Boston and probably aggravates everyone else.
But, as can be expected, he struggled to find his groove in his debut as a commentator. It's already a bit of a task to try and play off a second color commentator; Perkins had good chemistry with Scalabrine, but he stepped on Scal's toes occasionally. The first quarter, in particular, was an experiment as Perkins tried to find the right times to make an observation and when to just let the silence sit. Pretty standard buckets were often followed up by a "Nice" or an "Ooooh-wee", and at times it felt like the broadcast didn't go more than five seconds without something coming from Perkins. It's a tough balance to strike when your job is to comment on what's happening, and it's still a work in progress for Perkins.
There's potential for Perkins here, though. The unabashed homerism seems best suited for NBCS Boston, but overall his ability to communicate information concisely and carefree attitude could make for quite an entertaining broadcast sometime in the future.