Perkins says he was so scared to face James’ Cavs in 2008 that he prayed superstar would tear ACL

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Former Cleveland Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins recently said that he once hoped that LeBron James would suffer a major injury prior to a crucial 2008 playoff game.

Perkins, who was playing for the Boston Celtics at the time, appeared on the “Old Man and the Three” podcast and recalled (beginning at the 0:05 mark) his fears entering Game 7 that year in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“We played the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008, and it was a Game 7, right?” Perkins said. “We just had lost Game 6, and I ain’t gonna lie, man. I was scared as hell going into that Game 7 against LeBron James, and this was the only time that I actually prayed that something happened to him at practice.”

After J.J. Redick expressed amazement that Perkins would admit such a thing, the former Cavs big man simply expressed that he was being honest.

“I was like, ‘Let us get breaking news that LeBron has tore his ACL or something,'” Perkins said.

In that series, the Cavaliers had staved off elimination by winning a tough defensive battle in Game 6 by a score of 74-69. James paced the Cavaliers in that game with a double-double of 32 points and 12 rebounds. He also added six assists and two steals.

That all-around performance helps explain the trepidation that Perkins felt, even though Game 7 was set to be played on the Celtics’ home court.

James delivered a tremendous effort in that Game 7, but the Cavaliers’ season came to an end in a 97-92 defeat. James scored 45 points and had six assists, five rebounds and two steals in a valiant effort.

The Cavaliers were unable to stop the Celtics’ Paul Pierce, who scored 41 points, while his teammate Kevin Garnett delivered a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. The Celtics went on to win the NBA title that season.

Perkins later had two stints with the Cavaliers, both coming during James’ second tenure with Cleveland. The two players appeared to get along well, so it’s possible that Perkins previously offered his confession to James at some point during their time together.

Given James’ competitive nature, he likely has no problem with Perkins’ past sentiments and may even take pride in being able to strike such fear in an opponent.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.