(left) is averaging 3.2 points and 3.5 rebounds this season. (Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
There will be no intruders in Kendrick Perkins' sanctuary.
The veteran center took exception to Joakim Noah's presence in the Thunder's locker room following Oklahoma City's 107-95 home win on Thursday, according to multiple reports.
"They just let anybody in the locker room?" Perkins asked Noah, according to The Oklahoman. After Noah volunteered to leave if his presence was unwanted, Perkins replied: "Get your a-- up out of here."
CSNChicago.com reported that Noah accompanied Thabo Sefolosha into the locker room, and that Perkins and Noah exchanged words in the locker room and again after Noah left for the Bulls' bus. The site characterized the conversation as "brief" and "nothing" respectively, while DailyThunder.com noted that the other Thunder players present generally pointed the finger at Sefolosha for inviting an opponent into the locker room in the first place.
The "no opposing players in the locker room" edict does exist, but like any rule it's subject to different interpretations. Over the years, I've seen childhood friends, college teammates, former NBA teammates (or a player and his former NBA coach), and fellow countrymen catch up with the opposition in the locker room, but most conversations between opponents simply take place in the arena's hallways or loading dock areas. When locker room conversations do take place, it's usually after everyone's media obligations have been fulfilled and once the room has generally emptied out. A direct exchange like this is rare to say the least, especially with media present.
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Perkins' approach here is, to the surprise of absolutely no one, strict and old school. That the Thunder won going away, that the game wasn't against a rival, that the injury-ravaged Bulls have virtually no shot of facing the Thunder in the 2014 Finals, and that we're in the middle of December (rather than the playoffs) likely didn't factor into Perkins' mental calculus. Similarly, he probably didn't care that Sefolosha and Noah spent a year-plus as Bulls teammates before the Swiss guard was traded to the Thunder in 2009. This is a black and white issue for some players, especially veterans on title-contending teams, and Perkins likely felt an obligation to uphold the code, for better or worse. That no one spoke up to offer a "chill out, dude" when Perkins assumed the role of club bouncer says it all.
Perkins finished with zero points (on 0-for-0 shooting), four rebounds and one steal in 21 minutes. Noah tallied a team-high 23 points (on 8-for-17 shooting), 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals in 29 minutes.
Oklahoma City improved their NBA-best record to 21-4 with the win, thanks to a game-high 32 points (on 13-for-20 shooting), nine rebounds and six assists from Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook added 20 points (on 7-for-12 shooting) and 10 assists.
Chicago dropped to 9-16 with the loss. Taj Gibson had 16 points and six rebounds in a losing effort.
This isn't the first time Perkins has been involved in a post-game exchange during his time in Oklahoma City. Back in November 2012, he got into it with Zach Randolph
during the game and the ill will spilled over to the locker room hallways afterwards. The whoofing prompted the Grizzlies
' forward's memorable "I don't bluff" declaration