Here’s what the players and coaches had to say following the Golden State Warriors’ Game 3 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. USA TODAY Sports
CLEVELAND â Kendrick Perkins was done seeing Kevin Durant have the last word.
The two men are the best of friends, having played together for most of five seasons in Oklahoma City before their paths crossed in aÂ different way these past eight days. Durant made the controversial decision to sign with Golden State in the summer of 2016, and nowÂ here Perkins is prolonging his career (sort of) with the Cleveland Cavaliers squad that is on the verge of falling to the Warriors for the third time in four Finals tries.
But when Perkins was walking out of the Quicken Loans Arena after Game 3 on Wednesday night, with Durant having decimated all hope of a CavsÂ comeback with a 43-point, 13-rebound, seven-assist outing for the ages, he just couldnât stand the sight of his ex-teammate recapping his own greatness. So, in true “Perk”Â fashion, he flashed the old middle fingers at Durant as he spoke with reporters at the postgame podium.Â
âYeah, I flipped him the bird,â Perkins told USA TODAY Sports. âThatâs my family, but that was for real.â
Except, of course, that it wasnât.
You have to know Perkins to understand how this all works.
The 33-year-old big man is nothing if not unfiltered, as evidenced yet again by these past few weeks in which he has made all sorts of no-love-lost headlines despite not playing one minute. He had postgame beef withÂ rapper/Toronto Raptors ambassador Drake after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, then had another dust-up from the bench with Warriors point guard Steph Curry during Game 2 of the Finals. But this interaction with Durant was different.
âYeah, thatâs my brother,â Perkins said. âMe and KD, we talk at least every day or every other day, all throughout the year. Thatâs family, man. Obviously weâre competing right now. He wants to win. I want to win. Youâre going to always have that competitive nature going against each other.â
Perkinsâ competitive side, in other words, was not happy with what Durant did to his team.
âTo be honest, Iâd seen (Durantâs Game 3 performance) coming,â Perkins said. âMe being around him, me being a brother of his, I know him from playing with him for four and a half years, and Iâd seen it coming in the first quarter.
âWhen he hit his first four shots, and none of them hit the rim and they were all from different areas, I was like, âMan, we canât continue to let him play like this.â He kept them in the game, big shot after big shot.â
It was something Perkins had seen so many times during their Oklahoma City days.
The irony of it all is that Perkins is as big a Durant backer as youâll find, which is saying something at this particular moment. After his Game 3 outing, the discussion about his controversial decision to form a Golden State super team was front and center again. But Perkins, middle-finger momentÂ notwithstanding, is ecstatic for his friend.
âHe did the best thing for KD,â Perkins said. âIt ainât about doing what the next man feels (you should do), or whatever. He wanted to win a championship, and heâs doing itÂ in great fashion.
âHe chose the best route for himself, and itâs working out great for him. Iâm not mad at KD at all for the decision he made. He made the decision, and I was happy for him. Iâm still happy for him.â
As Perkins sees it, Durantâs legacy will hold up just fine over time so long as the Warriors keep winning titles.
âThink about this, heâs led the league in scoring (four times), he got the MVP, he makes the All-Star team every year,â Perkins said. âSo at the end of the day, why not win? The way this (league) is going now, to me you get judged off of championships. Why not stack âem up? Iâm happy for him. I donât give a damn what nobody says. Win them rings.
âHeâs still the same, humble guy. He ainât caught up into all the BS. Heâs still the same Kevin who wears the sweatsuits to the game, humble, ainât flashy at all. Donât care about money or none of that. He just plays basketball. He loves basketball. You canât do nothing but love the guy. If you donât, youâre a hater.â
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick on Twitter @Sam_Amick