FRISCO -- Unlike during the 1998-'99 season, Sam Perkins believes this year's group of NBA players are more together than the crew from 13 years ago.
Now an assistant coach with the NBA Development League's Texas Legends, the 50-year old Perkins averaged 11.9 points and 6.0 rebounds during a 17-year career that ended in 2001. He also won an NCAA title at North Carolina in 1982, and was the co-captain of the 1984 USA Olympic gold-medal winning squad.
Perkins shared his opinions with on several topics, including the NBA lockout, which has put the season in jeopardy.
You were involved in the NBA lockout during the 1998-'99 season. What do you think is the difference in that lockout and this year's lockout?
I think it's now in the hands of the players, because they stood firm and collectively as opposed to '99, where agents were involved and we separated a little bit. So we had disparity in some cases. But I think this year you don't have that. So you have a lot of guys inclined to stick together.
You lost $696,576 of your $1.785 million salary during the '98-'99 lockout. Do you think any of these players are worried about the money they're losing during this lockout?
Some players aren't concerned because some of those players are making it up by traveling overseas and getting whatever they can. Other players will have to just bite the money, but I heard they might be compensated. I guess it's all worth it for the future players coming in to take advantage of why they took a stance now.
Do you believe there will be a season this year?
Yeah, I think so. It's going to be a small one -- 50 games -- and starting by February. I don't know how lucrative it will be. But you're going to have a lot of players scrambling as far as getting into shape, getting adjusted to every night. There's going to be injuries. Those are all the negatives about it. But the other thing is at least you got it settled and you can look forward to next year.
What goes through your mind when you hear, in this lockout, players who are worth millions say they're going to 'wait out' owners who are worth billions?
The owners have money. Some look at owning an NBA team as a hobby. This is their second, third or fourth interest of business. I think, in a way, the players have to take a stance, have to show some solidarity. You just can't have them arguing against each other, because that makes their case even weaker. But the owners know what they're doing and the players, I assume, know what they're doing. I understand that percentage is a lot of money. The difference between 51 percent to 53 percent is really big. The superstars probably really have to make a strong hold to make this thing work.
Miami had three superstars in their prime in Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and the Mavericks had one in Dirk Nowitzki. So, how were the Mavs able to defeat the Heat last June in the NBA Finals?
Miami had everything in place -- just like the Philadelphia Eagles have everything in place -- and it doesn't work. When you have all those superstars, you've got to have chemistry.
Can the Heat get it together and win an NBA title?
Miami has an uphill battle. They have more role players than actually players like Dallas did. Dallas was very effective off the bench as opposed to Miami in that series. I don't think Miami has that type of chemistry yet to win it. I think Miami will learn from that, build on it, and so will Dallas. But there are other teams coming in from the rear that are trying to take that away.
You were the No. 4 overall pick of the 1984 NBA Draft by the Mavericks and spent your first six seasons playing for this organization. What was that like for you to see the Mavericks win their first NBA title?
It was good. I was happy that they overcame some of the things that kind of deterred their way. They had a bumpy road to get to it. Others said [owner Mark] Cuban paid so much money to the NBA that he bought one, finally, with all that fine money. But they did it legit. Dirk grew. And it took time for Dirk and the team to get what they wanted here, and they solidified that by getting the right players and capturing it at the right time. They had a hot streak and Dirk was a force this year, as opposed to other years where he was always needing help after the series was over. But this time he had a lot of help and he led them all the way.
Have the Mavericks been shortchanged with the lack of celebrations that usually comes during the off-season after you win an NBA title?
I don't think the players care. Personally to the players and if it was me, I know I got a title and I'm just waiting to defend it again. And that's probably the mindset of the players. If there's no season, they'll defend it again. It'll probably be the longest that a team has ever defended it.
Are you surprised the players who left college early to enter last June's NBA Draft didn't do their homework and stay in college so they could avoid this messy lockout situation?
They knew this was going to happen. Their agents, or whoever was representing them or giving them advice, knew it was coming. Some wanted to leave college because they probably messed up at the end by not going to school -- thinking that they were leaving. I think that's why they figured, well, I might as well come out now. It's unfortunate they have to sit around now and wait for the politics, because they don't know what's going on, really, to tell you the truth.
What happens if there's no NBA this season, and then next year two sets of rookies will be entering the NBA? Wouldn't that be utter chaos?
You'll have two sets of rookies, and what will happen to the first rookie that got drafted? Well, somebody's not going to get playing time. That will hurt one of the veterans, because a veteran might get cut, released or traded. It'll be interesting to see what happens, but you'll know that the teams are getting younger, for sure.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760