How about Mike Tyson as the next coach of the Sacramento Kings? Sure, he’s turning 50 this year, but the former heavyweight boxing champ could still knock some sense into DeMarcus Cousins’ thick head or scare the 6-foot-11 star into being a team player. Cousins needs someone who can kick his butt, right?
Want a tough guy with more basketball knowledge? There’s Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Bill Laimbeer. No one trifled with them in their playing days. Cousins would think twice before cursing them out in the locker room.
George Karl, the Kings’ long-suffering coach until a few days ago, reportedly wasn’t up to being a tough guy. That’s part of the reason he got fired. Two bouts of cancer and a bum knee turned Karl into a shadow of his former self. He was punking out of fighting Cousins and losing the respect of all the players in the locker room.
If you didn’t know that, you haven’t been reading the Sacramento Bee very closely. Here’s how sports columnist Ailene Voisin put it last Friday:
A younger, healthier Karl – one who felt fully empowered by his organization – would have reacted to Cousins’ profane tirades by throwing punches or tossing him out of practice. But this is not the same feisty, in-your-face coach who transformed losing franchises into perennial playoff participants. He has a bad knee that will be surgically replaced next week. He has survived two bouts of cancer, and his vocal chords have been severely damaged by the treatment, reducing his voice to a whisper at times.
Karl ranks fifth all-time in NBA annals with 1,175 head coaching victories through 27 seasons. He compiled a 44-68 record in one and a half seasons in Sacramento. I didn’t come across any stats on how many locker-room fights he won along the way.
Does Voisin really think a punch-throwing Karl would have brought Cousins under control? I don’t know. The idea is as ludicrous as her theory that general manager Vlade Divac should hire the best coach available, not one who will placate the dysfunctional Cousins. Says Voisin:
The worst mistake Divac could make would be to hire someone based on whether he thinks that person would relate to Cousins, coax the poorly conditioned center into better shape, and overcome the six-year veteran’s volatile mood swings and bullying personality. Just hire the best man for the job. That’s it. This can’t be about Cousins. These six seasons have been brutal.
Assuming the Kings don’t trade Cousins, they would be foolish to bring in any coach who didn’t intend to minister to Cousins’ every strength and sidestep his weaknesses. Cousins has the support of primary owner Vivek Ranadive, and the star has made it clear he puts his statistics and self-interest above that of the team. He can’t or won’t play an uptempo game with a lot of ball movement. That isn’t his style. He wants to have the ball in his hands and make one-on-one moves or fire up some three-pointers. He averaged 26.9 points per game last season.
Let Cousins choose his own coach. Maybe he will average 35 points a game, and the Kings will grab the eighth playoff spot next year.