After winning the NCAA championship with North Carolina alongside Michael Jordan and James Worthy in 1982, Perkins was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks as the fourth overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft. He spent six seasons with the Mavericks, then signed with the Lakers as an unrestricted free agent in 1990 to once again join forces with Worthy.
He played with the Lakers for three seasons, averaging 14.6 points and eight rebounds. In his first season with the team, he made a game-winning three-pointer in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls. During the 1991-92 season, Perkins posted the highest scoring average of his 15-year NBA career (16.5) and equalled his highest rebounding average (8.8) after Magic Johnson retired in November.
Perkins played in 49 games during his last season with the team, from 1992-93, before being traded to the Seattle SuperSonics on Feb. 22, 1992, for Doug Christie and Benoit Benjamin.
Perkins, known as "The Big Easy," established himself as a lethal three-point shooter in the latter part of his career and reached the playoffs 13 of his 15 NBA seasons before retiring in 2001.