OKLAHOMA CITY - Of the 18,000 fans in the Chesapeake Arena, there’s a woman who sits close to the court who’s followed Kendrick Perkins from day one; his wife, Vanity.
“I’m praying because the ref is always calling fouls on him when I feel like he ain’t touched them,” Vanity Perkins said. “If he looks at them, they’re calling a foul.”
Fans know when Kendrick’s shoes hit the hardwood, #5 has a trademark look.
“That scowl has been there as long as I’ve known Kendrick,” she said.
“When you playing basketball, he can’t be on the court like smiling at people,” she said.
Their two boys seem to have inherited “the scowl.”
“They all have that look,” Vanity said. “But they’re the sweetest people. I don’t understand it. They can look really mean.”
The truth is, that Perkins scowl makes for great television commercials.
Kendrick recalls shooting the “Got Milk” commercial and how long it took to do.
“It was in a grocery store and they had to shoot like 20 shots at different angles,” he said.
That meant hours of scowling.
Kendrick said the producer kept saying, “‘Alright Perk, let me get the look that you have on the court.’ I’m like, ‘Man, that’s kind of hard. I’m not like that all day long.’”
The scowl most often appears when he’s on the polished maple of the court; it’s his game face.
“It’s all business when I get on the court,” Kendrick laughed. “But outside of basketball, some of my teammates call me a teddy bear but I’m a cool guy.”
Kendrick Perkins just finished another commercial for an Oklahoma City jewelry store.
It will air during the holiday shopping season.
Vanity and Perk are together whenever possible.
Family time when they can be alone is increasingly precious as fame brings fans.
“We go someplace and have to leave early because there’s beginning to be autograph signing requests and picture sessions,” Vanity said.
But increasingly, people want more than his autograph or picture, they want money.
“It’s so stressful because you have so many people who come at you,” she said. “Like in a day, Kendrick may have 10 people asking for $2,000 here, $3,000 there. It’s never in the hundreds.”
Home is their sanctuary.
Vanity Perkins has a natural gift as a decorator and designed their home’s interior.
She likes bold statements and big accents; both fit in well with the super-sized doorways and arches that accommodate their NBA friends.
“Kendrick gets on me,” she said. “He wants me to pursue my decorating. I love to decorate homes.”
There is one room, however, where you can only look, don’t touch.
The room is beautifully set with china and floral arrangements; a grand greeting when you enter their home.
One room in their house gets used after the game, particularly if the Thunder loses; their home theater.
“If we lose, we have to sit here and watch ESPN all night,” Vanity said. “We can’t go out to eat that night. He (Kendrick) is on the phone with every teammate telling them the same story and I have to listen to it all night. I’m, like, praying that we win the game.”
Kendrick’s size 17 shoes dictated another change in her house plans.
“We had to have another closet built for Kendrick because his shoes are taking over,” she said. “You’d think mine would, but his is.”
Vanity’s decorating sometimes falls victim to their 1-year-old son, Kenxton.
Kenxton already weights 32 pounds, taller and heavier than other boys his age.
“He breaks everything,” Vanity said.
He’s just started walking on his own, which takes him to new things within his reach.
Kenxton’s trail of destruction from the night before included a pile of shattered picture frames and vases.
Vanity and Perk also have a 5-year-old son, Kendrick, Jr.
Kendrick Perkins’ basketball career has jettisoned this young couple into the elite world of sports millionaires.
Vanity said Thunder management recently brought in the team for a quick course on money management.
She said it was a wake-up call.
“Ever since that day, we have been on a saving craze around here,” Vanity said. “Like, Kendrick wouldn’t wear his Polo undershirts twice. Like he’d wear them once and throw them out and I’ll wear them to bed because they’re so soft. Now he’s not going to do that. He’s going to wear his shirts after I wash them.”
Vanity said she’s doing her part. “I stopped shopping as much. It’s kind of hard because I love to shop.”
But there are moments when Vanity would trade the shopping for the simple, small-town lives they had in Texas.
“I always make a joke, ‘Oh, I just want to be regular again.’ He (Kendrick) says, ‘I don’t know what your regular was but I don’t want to be that regular.’”
Kendrick Perkins is the veteran player of the Thunder.
He has more years in the NBA than any other team member.
When he was traded to Oklahoma City from the Celtics less than a year ago, he brought his diamond-encrusted World Champion ring as a reminder of what he wants the Thunder to achieve.
It’s been a journey neither he nor Vanity ever imagined for themselves.
“I knew he was talented because he always played basketball but never did I think he’d be in the NBA right now and that we’d still be together,” she said.
“But he’s happy; he takes the stress way better than I do,” she said.