Kings’ Cousins A Dilemma Wrapped Inside A Paradox

Published on: 3rd February, 2013


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New York – DeMarcus Cousins, the 6’10”, 22-year old man-child center for the Sacramento Kings has a perception problem. He perceives many of his peers in the NBA, including his own teammates are not giving him the respect he deserves. He also believes the coach of his team, once a strong supporter, now sees him as a coach-killer.

These are not good perceptions to have for a young athlete if he plans on pursuing a long, successful career in the NBA. But, what makes it worse for DeMarcus Cousins is, he could care less.

The reality is, Cousins perceptions are correct. And, he’s earned his reputation through sheer effort on his part. The young man has had no help from anyone else in creating this negative persona around the league.

According to those close to the Kings, almost every one of his teammates has grown disenchanted with him. There have been loud whispers of how tired they’ve become of his self-indulgent, narcissistic ways while Kings coach, Keith Smart, has called him “a loafer” at practices while openly wondering, in front of his teammates, why Cousins always calls for the ball while consistently being the last man to cross the midcourt timeline when the Kings have the ball.

Now, word has recently spread of the many players on other NBA teams who think he needs a verbal dressing-down from a respected veteran in the league to attempt to elicit an attitude adjustment. Reportedly, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard have each given the young man a stern talking-to in recent weeks without any discernible change in Cousins’ demeanor. The Kings even asked NBA legend, Bill Russell to speak with Cousins about being a good teammate and conducting oneself as a professional. Cousins reportedly had no idea who Bill Russell was.

Cousins has already been suspended three times this season. Twice by the Kings, once by the league. His scoring average is down, his shooting percentage is down, his blocked shots are down. His teams’ record is always down. His frown is always prevalent, in the locker room and on the basketball floor.

So, if the buzz around the league is true (and why wouldn’t it be?), why is DeMarcus Cousins, all unchiseled 280-pounds of him, still in great demand as a player who could help a contending team win a championship?

Luckily for Cousins, the NBA remains a player-driven league, hungry for talent in all shapes and sizes. If a kid can play, every general manager and coach believes THEY are the ones who can bring it out of a troubled soul and turn the player into the type of athletic beast his talent level demands of him.

Cousins was considered a high-risk draft choice out of the University of Kentucky in 2010 because of the same issues that have continued to plague him in the NBA. He yelled at his college teammates, blaming them for everything from not getting him enough touches during a game to simply not being good enough to play with him. He blamed his coach, the estimable John Calipari, an NCAA bandit who’s seen a few things in his day, for giving the ball to John Wall during their Kentucky days instead of making DeMarcus Cousins the focal point.

Calipari didn’t push too hard to convince Cousins to stay at Kentucky past his freshman year. After just one torturous season with Cousins, Calipari wished him better luck being coached in the NBA than he had had with him in college. And, just like that, Cousins was out of the Kentucky professional basketball finishing school.

In that 2010 draft, Cousins dropped from a sure-fire first or second pick in the draft (John Wall was taken first by Washington) to the fifth slot, behind less talented but more reliable, coachable kids like Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, and the great Wesley Johnson.

Sacramento thought they had lucked out with the best player in the country at #5. Three years later, Smart is beginning to mumble to himself about Cousins, who, not so subtly is trying to get himself traded out of the mess this Sacramento franchise has become.

The Maloof brothers, long-time owners of the team, are nearing a deal to sell the Kings to a group headed by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, of Microsoft money, who announced they would re-locate the Kings back to Seattle and re-name it the SuperSonics.

This back to the future event made everyone in Seattle very happy but also raised the ire of the tough, competitive mayor of Sacramento named Kevin Johnson. Mayor Johnson announced he will do everything in his power to put together a buying syndicate that will outspend the Hansen-Ballmer deal, estimated to be in the $500 million range, with plans to keep the franchise in Sacramento.

If Johnson’s name sounds familiar, KJ, as he was once known, was an All-Star point guard in the NBA, mostly for the Phoenix Suns in the 1980s. He was a ferocious competitor back then and remains so, today. Johnson says he won’t let go of this franchise without a fight.

All of these off-court machinations have served to steer this team into a no-man’s land, of sorts. Are they staying or going? Can they invest in free-agent talent or do they need to spend very close to the vest until the deal is completed? Everything is in flux, now. And, Cousins, a native of Mobile, Ala., would greatly prefer not to be a part of it. He’s ready to take flight from the west coast as soon as possible.

One team who seems to feel strongly about Cousins is the Boston Celtics. A veteran-laden roster, the buzz around Beantown has been to figure out a way to re-load their aging roster with Cousins, who would then fall under the wing of another former loose wire who seemed to grow up right in front of our eyes, Kevin Garnett. Who else to teach the wild, wooly Cousins the ropes on how to turn his physical gifts into a championship caliber player than the likes of Garnett, Doc Rivers, Rejean Rondo and Paul Pierce. All veterans with championship pedigrees.

If not the Celtics, there’s always another organization with a winning tradition and veteran leadership, the San Antonio Spurs. The biggest question there would be, can Gregg Popovich, an old-school kind of coach put up with the selfishness of the young Cousins. There’s no doubt that talent-wise, Cousins can step in for Tim Duncan someday and give the Spurs similar production.

Popovich also has a history of taking in immature but talented types as he did with Stephen Jackson. It took Popovich and Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli to show Jackson how to sublimate his own ego for the good of the team.

Why not Cousins? If the kid grows up, he’ll be a steal, so immense is his talent. If he doesn’t grow up, or seek strong psychotherapeutic alternatives, DeMarcus Cousins will just turn into another one of those should’ve or could’ve stories.



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