ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins offers condolences to legendary Dunbar coach Robert Hughes

The passing of Dunbar legend and icon Robert Hughes, the all-time winningest boys basketball coach in high school history, has been felt across the nation.

So naturally, it would be touched upon at Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center.

Former NBA champion Kendrick Perkins, now an analyst for ESPN, has a personal connection with Hughes and Dunbar.

When Perkins was a McDonald’s All-American at Beaumont Ozen he suffered a 66­-54 loss to Dunbar in the 2003 Class 4A State Championship game. He had 18 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in the game.

But he scored just three points in the second half as Hughes won his fifth and final state title.

An iconic photo from the game was of Dunbar star Jeremis Smith dunking over the-then 6-11, 290-pound center.

Hughes retired in 2005 and was named the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.

Perkins declared for the 2003 NBA Draft and was picked in the first round by the Memphis Grizzlies. He played 16 years in the NBA and won NBA title with Celtics in 2008.

Perkins remembers the game against Dunbar well and offered nothing but respect to Hughes as a coach, man and leader.

“It always hurts to lose a legend,” Perkins said. “I want to make sure that I send my condolences to his family. At times like these you come together and you appreciate. You appreciate what he brought to the game, what he meant to Texas basketball, the young men whose lives that he affected in a positive way.”

“The competition in between the lines is one thing but when it’s about life, it’s another thing. And all I keep hearing is the great stories about what he meant to so many young men.”

Perkins’ lost to Dunbar came one year after losing to NBA legend Chris Bosh and Dallas Lincoln, who beat Ozen 71-51 in the 2002 Class 4A State title game.

The losses to Dunbar and Lincoln left a bad taste in Perkins’ mouth about Dallas-Fort Worth, an area he grew up hating.

“I knew everything about Dallas,” Perkins said. “Beaumont is basically part of Houston. We don’t like the Dallas area and Dallas doesn’t like us. It’s competition. It’s starts at a young age. We can’t wait to see each other in the finals. It’s always there. You got to love it. But it’s all love.”

Perkins is loving it right now because his Celtics have a commanding 3-0 lead over the Mavericks and are one win away from their 18th NBA title and surpassing the Los Angeles Lakers for the most in league history.