DeMarcus Cousins’ New Clothes

Remember the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”? Rich emperor only wore the flyest robes, 2 hucksters come to his country and convince the emperor and everyone else that this “magic cloth” they have can only be seen by those with intelligence. He CAN’T admit that he sees nothing, so they sell him robes made of the “magic cloth” for an obscene price then abscond while the emperor struts around nude, and all the townfolk don’t want to admit they can’t see the robes either, so they pretend that they see his clothes too. Finally a kid shows up and says,”Um, why is the emperor naked?” That’s where we are with DeMarcus Cousins. He sold us the “misunderstood” cloth, and I’m asking,”Um. You realize this guy isn’t really acting like “jut a kid”, right?”

DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings scintillatingly talented and explosively volatile rookie, is a gem of a player.

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 He’s strong as 3 oxen, has a competitive streak a country mile wide, and, teamed with last season’s ROY Tyreke Evans, is poised to bolster the King to dizzying heights in the years AK (After Kobe). I saw his dismantling of Lakers“defensive” big man Andrew Bynum to the tune of 22 1st half points (27 overall) in the Kings W over the Lake Show. I dig the fiery edge he plays with – I miss the physicality and and chippiness of the hard-nosed ’90s NBA; today a glare or a shoulder-bump earns today’s players a T. DeMarcus Cousins is the future of the Sacramento Kings, and DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended by his team. Again. (OK, 1t time was a “benching”. You say “tomato”, I say ketchup”).

I’m not calling for DMC’s head. I’m not railing against the state of the NBA like an ornery old “HEY! You kids get off my dang lawn!” man. I want to see Boogie succeed. I want to witness Cousins and Blake Griffin trying to tear down rims in 2015. Be all this as it may, I’m going to go against the grain and say it: DeMarcus Cousins has an issue that goes beyond “immaturity”.

Let’s say you’re 19, econ major. You’re working as a paid intern at the brokerage where you’ve always dreamed of working. You’re still young right? Maybe a coworker get you mad, you guys raise your voice, tempers flair. Maybe you’re hung-over one day, snap at the boss, get sent home for the day. These things happen, right?

But what if you embarrassed the company on a public platform, getting sent home with pay? Then get kicked out of a planning meeting for arguing continually with your manager? THEN, upset because Watkins in accounting didn’t give you the head’s up on a Friday deadline, you berate him all the way down the hall until Johnson in HR tries to step in, then you swing on him and you have to be physically separated? Oh, and this is after you had documented run-ins all through high school economics class. Would this be considered the resum’ of someone who’s acting like a kid who’s “just immature”?

I get it. He’s 19, and on the court he has a competitive fire, off the court he’s a laid back jokester. But let’s stop defending the extremes that he takes things to, stop with the “just a kid” excuse, it’ an insult to the 19 year olds out in the world who DON’T get kicked out of class for trash talking the teacher, or who don’t try to square off with Joey in the mail-room. If Cousins was the 45th pick instead of the 5th, would columnists and bloggers be so quick to dismiss jerk behavior? After one of his incidents this season, a writer who I hold in high esteem said,” He’ll figure it out. He’s just too good to give up on.” I understand the sentiment. The franchise has invested millions in salary and millions more in marketing and projected future income on choosing Cousins; to “give up” on him would be asinine. Can we admit that this is beyond regular young man stuff? Look at the history. The suspension in high school for an altercation with an adult. The forearm smash on the Louisville’s Jared Swopshire (I know what some will say; watch this video and tell me the knee wasn’t inadvertent and that DMC wasn’t gooning). Then this season, already, he’s been sent home from a practice, fined by his team, benched by his team (the benching was dumb, I think, but once the spotlight is on you…), and now this. Hell there was talk of sending him to the D-League was floated out, and there’s been trade speculation already. For the #5 pick.  After every incident, Cousins says the right things.

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After the high school incident, he said,

”I just need to walk a straight line. People are always going to have something to say.”

After the Louisville game, when asked about the trying to crush Swopshire’s nugget, he deadpanned,

”I don’t know nothing about a forearm, I was going for the ball.”

Right. This is on national TV. CBS analysts Seth Davis and Tim Brando didn’t doctor the film. While doing the pre-draft rounds, the subject of his attitude came up.

“I’m the bad guy. Throughout the draft process the only person getting the negatives – I’ll say the most negatives, is me.”  Why?  “I have no clue.”

Be real. Jerry Meyer, national analyst for well respected, said it just right back in 2007,”His greatest challenge is dealing with his temper.”

Even after being kicked out of practice in late November last year, he admitted that he got punted for “being selfish” and that getting banished was a “good lesson for me.”

I’m not attacking DMC’s game. I’m not impugning his character. This isn’t about the terrible body language DMC displays sometimes. All I’m saying is that every year there are around 60 rookies, usually between 19 and 22. I’m sure that there are plenty of maturity issues (*cough*MichaelBeasley*cough*). Have we heard of anything close to this kind of stuff from the other rooks? Arguing with coaches to the point of getting booted from practice? Throwing punches at teammate? Are  this and this just stories out of thin air? This isn’t an indictment of DeMarcus Cousins, it’s a call to at least admit that where’s there’s so much smoke, there’s probably a flame or two. Cool, he’s a good guy off the court and a great talent. If I remember correctly, so were Dennis Rodman and Mike Tyson. Just because he’s a nice guy doesn’t mean he can’t be have a temper problem that crosses the line of youthful foibles or rookie impatience. Somehow so many see this as harmless “part of growing up” stuff. I see a young King that no one wants to admit is naked as a jaybird.

Hardwood Paroxysm