I told you so! I told you so!
“Pretty soon, the apologists and enablers of DeMarcus Cousins are going to run out of spin material on the 6-foot-11, 270-pound Kings center and have to deal with an unpleasant reality: the surly malcontent is a bully.”
I wrote that last February after the Kings star got fined and suspended by the NBA for punching a 6-foot-1 Houston player. The reaction from then Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro was to say: “He’s a young man that’s made great strides, and we won’t let this setback get in the way of his progress.”
I noted as far back as 2012 that the Kings should send Cousins packing for conduct unbecoming a professional basketball player. Cousins has shown a penchant since he came into the NBA for whacking, shoving and threatening players, refs and television commentators as well as failing to put out 100 percent on the court and undermining coaches.
Alas, my warnings fell on deaf ears. Bee sports columnist Ailene Voisin has for years presented Cousins as a man-child toddling toward maturity, while primary team owner Vivek Ranadive saw fit to give him a four-year, $62 million contract extension in 2013.
Imagine my surprise, then, to read this comment from Voisin in today’s Sacramento Bee: “The Kings can’t continue treating a 25-year-old man with kid gloves.” Furthermore, she said, “Principal owner Vivek Ranadive, general manager Vlade Divac and coach George Karl have to stop enabling and take a firmer stand.”
The Bee columnist was reacting to Cousins’ meltdown Monday night when he went into a tirade after getting his fifth foul in a game against Golden State. He had to be restrained from going after the referee, was socked with two technical fouls and ejected from the game. Showing his team spirit, Cousins shoved teammate and would be peacemaker Rudy Gay. The Kings, who were leading 66-64 at the time, fell into a swoon and lost by 19 points.
“The mood is shifting, the fans increasingly restless,” Voisin said. “Many of Cousins’ most impassioned advocates are checking out. The Kings have to catch his attention somehow, and soon. A suspension would be a start.”
General manager Divac said he had no plans to discipline Cousins and hoped the NBA would refrain from suspending him.
During his NBA career, Cousins has been ejected 10 times, assessed 77 technical fouls and issued six suspensions (five by league/one by team), according ESPN Stats & Information. The 10 ejections and 77 technicals are the most in the league since Cousins’ rookie season in 2010.
Some had hoped Kings newcomer Rajon Rondo, a veteran of NBA life, might be a stabilizing influence for the volatile Cousins. They must have overlooked the fact that Rondo is the only other player with six suspensions since 2010, according to ESPN, one of which came when he hurled an anti-gay slur at a referee this month.
Now that Cousins is finally being seen as an intractable malcontent and has picked up an explosive sidekick, the Kings might have to market themselves as the “bad boys” and hope that some of the Detroit Pistons’ success with that label rubs off on them.