Yesterday afternoon, former Sacramento Bee columnist and current NBA.com writer Scott Howard-Cooper put together a piece on his Hang Time blog which featured some not so flattering comments about Kings big man, DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins is increasingly viewed as a bully of a cheap-shot artist delivering unnecessary blows to smaller players rather than putting the same hit on fellow big men. One opposing coach, asked if it’s only a matter of time before someone clocks Cousins, smiled and laughed. A player from another team heard assistants during a timeout referencing underhanded tactics. Said another player: “He knows exactly who to do that with. It’s mostly smaller players,” and, “All it takes is one time in this league to pick the wrong person.”
Reading this – a variety of topics crossed my mind, namely reputation. DeMarcus has one and getting rid of that stigma is going to be nearly impossible, so as a Kings fan, we’re going to have to live with it. That’s not to say some of his reputations aren’t earned – they certainly are, but many of them are clearly exaggerated like the perceived notion that he’s some type of malcontent asshole. Much like the “nobody likes Jimmer” rumors, once the spark is lit – it’s tough to put out, especially when some of the gasoline poured onto the fire comes from the player himself as has been the case with Big Cuz.
The problem with reputations is – well, they’re just usually not completely accurate – just perceived notions that are ran with because it’s the easy story. Think back to Kings of yesteryear – Chris Webber was a choker, or so we were told. But I’m sure you remember C-Webb having plenty of big moments in clutch situations for the Kings. How about Peja and the soft euro label? Granted, nobody was going to confuse Peja with Bill Laimbeer anytime soon but the Kings euro gunner didn’t have any problems getting dirt under his fingernails if the situation called for it.
DeMarcus is doing what most NBA fans wish their big men did – and that’s be intimidating. Unlike many others, say for example Reggie Evans, he’s not doing anything that would be considered a danger to opposing players (like mid-air pushing, etc), he’s simply playing mind games with the opposition. If it works one time and causes a guard or forward to pull up for a 15 footer rather than go for a lay-up, that seems like an effective strategy to me. It WAS the way NBA basketball in the 80’s and early 90’s was played, but now that the intimidation factor has left the game, when one is seen doing it, it’s almost perceived as a fault – and for somebody with the reputation of Cousins to be doing it? Then it’s just dirty play.
I’ve seen a lot of Kings come through Sacramento who played a far more “dirty” game than DeMarcus *cough*BRADMILLER*cough*. There are NBA superstars like Chris Paul (notorious groin puncher) and Kevin Garnett who get away with near felonies on the court because they’re personable and media sweethearts when the final whistle blows. But there’s a big difference between playing dirty and attempting to be intimidating.
If somebody wants to “clock” Cousins, as some unnamed coach says – so be it. He wouldn’t be the first guy to catch an elbow or fist for playing a physical game nor will he be the last. Emotions do get the best of you – it happens to everybody. But reputations follow like Linus’ blanket in Charlie Brown and there’s little DeMarcus Cousins can do about that. So I say play your game, Big Cuz – it’s certainly working so far.