Friday, November 9
Where Are They Now - Sam Perkins
If you don’t love Sam Perkins, well, you just don’t love the Sonics.
With the possible exception of Fred Brown, I think Sam Perkins was the most beloved player in the history of the Sonics. Let me clarify that thought, since it might seem a bit confusing.
Every player has plusses and minuses. Some people might have disliked Shawn Kemp for the way he seemed to never quite be everything we wanted him to be. Gary Payton always bugged certain folks because of his attitude, or because of the way he treated younger players. Dale Ellis, well, his run-ins with the law and the bottle certainly bothered more than a few fans, and on down the line.
What I’m trying to say is that everyone liked Sam Perkins. The Big Smooth was just that, smooth. His motions on the court never made you think of anyone else remotely associated with basketball. His nonchalance reminded you only of a 75-year-old man making a left turn in a Cadillac – Sam was going to hit the three, you knew he was going to hit the three, he would do it when he was damn well and ready, and there wasn’t anything you could do about it.
Perkins also did all the little things that you wouldn’t expect from a man with his size and talent. Need points on a baby hook in the paint? Turn to Sam. Need someone to help on defense, grab a rebound, make the right pass, set a screen? Turn to Sam.
Always ready with a smile or a chuckle, Perkins made it all seem like fun, and that endeared him to a generation of fans. Add in his work with pediatric AIDS charities in Seattle, his time with KUBE as a DJ, hey, the guy was just loved.
So it comes with no surprise that Sam Perkins is still doing the right thing. While many other retired players search for meaning in their post-athletic lives, Perkins is involved with Nothing But Nets, a charity which strives to bring more mosquito netting to Africans, thereby reducing the deadly spread of malaria. Perkins even has a blog on the campaign’s website.
But Perkins doesn’t stop there. He volunteers his time to work with the Special Olympics, as you can see from this touching interview from ABC News. In addition to helping the team stateside, Perkins traveled to China for the Olympics in early October, lending his expertise to a group that surely treasured every word. In addition, Big Smooth also works with Basketball Without Borders and a number of other charities too many to list here.
You know, sometimes, great players are miserable human beings, and fans become disillusioned by their off-court actions. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there is nothing about being a tremendous athlete that requires a level of civic awareness higher than that of the average person. After all, how many of your co-workers, family, or friends donates weekend after weekend at the soup kitchen?
Then you have Sam Perkins. A very good player on the court, Perkins has dwarfed his accomplishments as a basketball player with his accomplishments as a man.
Where is Sam Perkins Now? From what I can tell, he’s right where he wants to be.
Posted by PN at 12:41 PM