Madam Speaker, today I am proud to pay tribute to Kendrick Perkins, the former basketball standout at Clifton J. Ozen High school and the starting Center for the 2007 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics
Kendrick was born in Nederland, Texas, in 1984. According to his grandmother, he played football and baseball as a young boy but would fall asleep at night holding a basketball. He attended Our Mother of Mercy Catholic School throughout elementary school and was one of the tallest altar boys they have ever seen. So tall, in fact, that they had to have a robe specially made for him. He continued to serve the church until his high school graduation, even while scouts and agents were vying for his services.
Perkins attended Ozen High School in Beaumont, Texas and left quite a legacy on the basketball court. He led the team to three Class 4A Sate Championship games in three years, winning the title as a sophomore in 2001. During that run, his Panthers were a combined 111-4. As a senior, the 6-foot-10 Kendrick averaged 27 points, 16 rebounds, and almost 8 blocked shots per game, easily making him one of the nations top high school prospects.
After graduating from High School in 2003, a number of elite colleges recruited him and he was considered by some to be the best high school center in America. He was ranked alongside LeBron James as the nations top recruits, but so far advanced was his game that he spent that summer traveling to tryouts with a number of NBA teams. He was drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft with the 27th overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies and immediately traded to the Boston Celtics, one of the most successful franchises in all sports.
Kendrick played a support role as the teams enforcer during his first few years in the league, earning a reputation as one of the tougher players on the team. He would eventually work his way up the depth chart to starting Center. In 2007, the team made a number of off-season moves that would leave the Celtics as the favorite to win the title. The team had the best record in the league during the regular season and had home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
The playoffs were more difficult than they would have hoped. Their first two series both went to seven games but they were able to pull through. Kendrick and the Celtics beat former prep-rival LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals to bring the Celtics to their first NBA Finals appearance since the 1985 86 season. Their opponents were the Los Angeles Lakers, facing each other in the Finals for a record 11th time. There was genuine buzz and excitement around the NBA for the first time in recent memory and Kendrick would have a chance to shine.