For Sacramento Kings head coach Keith Smart, it’s been a trying time as of late – especially in the eye of the King faithful who’ve grown irritated of Smart’s head scratching rotations and lack of player development. Seemingly in over his head with a sub-par team, the only thing saving Smart’s seat from melting away into ashes is the Maloof’s empty pocket book, but despite the continued whispers of impending doom for Smart – I must give the former Hoosier credit in how he handled last night’s tiff with Kings star DeMarcus Cousins.
Jan 10, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach Keith Smart talks with center DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Kings 112-85. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Look, I like Keith as a person and DeMarcus as well. I think Cousins is overly vilified, many times wrongly, because he’s an easy target – but that’s not to say he doesn’t create some of his own messes, like last evening when he could be seen arguing with Smart at the end of the first quarter as Scott recapped. The frustration boiled over apparently and Cousins was left in the locker room post half to write on a chalkboard or something, Smart putting his foot down letting his star player know who’s in charge.
Sure, major media will turn this story into something much more than it is. We see players unhappy with their coaches all the time. We see shouting matches. Hell, we see players (some Hall of Fame talent) refuse to enter games. Add in the fact that you’re one of the worst teams in the league and have been for years, the losses send the frustration over the top and you have blowouts. They happen – it’s nothing new, especially in the current NBA game.
Still, that doesn’t mean it’s right and DeMarcus needed to be held accountable for his actions last night. Some coaches would’ve let Cousins return to the court, so I applaud Smart for doing what he did and standing his ground.
What exactly happened in the locker room that pushed Smart to do what he did, it doesn’t sound like we’ll ever know as both sides are keeping mum, although given Cousins’ “don’t talk back ” comment – we’re given a bit of insight as to what went down.
I understand Cousins’ frustrations – who wouldn’t. It’s a losing environment with suspect leadership from the top of the organization down. I’m tired of it. You’re tired of it. You know damn well the players are tired of it. Still, that doesn’t give DeMarcus the right to do what he did and a big up’s to Keith Smart for handling the situation as he did.
Unfortunately, this is a situation bound to happen again – maybe not to DeMarcus or maybe not as publicized, but the continued second rate leadership and constant losing breeds ineptitude and frustration.