Cousins Ready to Move Past the Drama
The Sacramento Kings have had an interesting season so far to say the least. There have been reported issues in the locker room, odd press releases and sub-par play to this point. One of the players who figures prominently in all of those areas is DeMarcus Cousins, who has always had questions surrounding his attitude and maturity and prior to Sacramento’s game Monday night in Minnesota, a majority of the team was ready to move past the drama and begin to find answers to the issues.
“I have an idea of how to deal with him, but I’m beyond that part of how to deal with him,” said Head Coach Keith Smart. “That’s a dead issue now. This is the issue that I’m coaching a young man brand new, so all the things people are saying about him, I’ve got him covered one hundred percent because he’s a brand new guy right now. I don’t think he’s going to be the guy that people are perceiving him to be and so, for me and for you, as media experts, give the guy a chance. Start writing about what you see the positive of what he’s doing right now and not so much the baggage he was bringing in. Give him a chance to go in a new direction and then see what happens from there, as opposed to every conversation is ‘that guy and his attitude.’ To me, it’s over and I was there, so I know you have a blank sheet of paper and right now that blank sheet of paper is pretty good.”
After reports stated Cousins essentially attempted to assault a cameraman in Dallas—a claim refuted by everyone in the locker room, including many members of the media—Cousins was caught off guard. Even when he feels he is going about something in the correct manner, it still turns out badly for him.
“It’s hard to deal with because people don’t know the real me,” said Cousins. “I mean, they believe what they hear and they take it and run with it. It’s kind of hard to continue to be yourself, but at the same time my teammates know who I am, my coaching staff knows who I am, they know what I do, they know how I am, so that’s all that really matters.
“If I sneeze the wrong way, ‘DeMarcus trying to sneeze on somebody.’ I got to be careful with everything that I do, be careful with everything I say. I do have a narrow line I have to walk on.”
Last year when the Kings were having a solid season, many of these ‘issues’ were non-existent. While some would argue Cousins still had a lot of work to do on growing as both a basketball player and as an adult, the only true test is whether or not his teammates care to play with him and if the team is winning. He understands that things may be overblown at times because the Kings aren’t winning much in the 2011-12 season and because of the past mistakes he has made.
“I mean, at the end of the day when you collect W’s, they always love you, no matter how bad of a person you are,” said Cousins. “I mean, some people on winning teams now are the worst person in the world, but you’d never know because all they do is brag about what they do great. When everything is positive and you’re winning, they’re going to keep it positive. When everything’s negative, they’re going to try and keep it negative.”
After a much-needed coaching change, the Kings have also found what they believe to be a much-needed ability to relax and just play basketball. There is a new attitude brought about by their new coach and the players are buying in, including Cousins.
“I mean, everything’s been positive around here,” said Cousins. “Coach isn’t scared to speak his mind. He’s going to tell the truth, he’s going to tell you how it should be, how it’s not going to be and we respect him for it. He sets his guidelines that we all go about and that’s something that we needed from the beginning. I mean, Coach is going to be real-life. If you mess up, he’s going to tell you you messed up, but that’s all we needed from the beginning.”
“It has changed,” added Cousins. “It’s a lot more motion and everybody’s touching it. I mean, we just got to figure things out, keep growing together and, I mean, the sky’s the limit for this team. I mean, everything’s been good. Honestly, we’re still trying to find the identity of our team, so that’s it. We still got a lot of growing to do and we’re doing it every day, each game.”
The lockout-shortened season is a challenge for every team, but a young team such as the Sacramento Kings that must also adapt to a new coach has even more hurdles. However, they are a group of players who believe in each other and want to stay together for a number of years. They are close off the court and if they continue to focus on improving every day, they could be an above average team faster than many doubters believe.
“Honestly, we all know it’s going to take a while,” said Cousins. “I mean, that’s not something that’s just going to change overnight, so just learning this new system, learning how to play off each other in this new system and hopefully we’ll get it soon. Hopefully, we can get it this year.”
If your best players buy into the new system and new coach, the rest of the team better follow suit. The past is history, both personally and as a team, as long as each player re-commits to improving. Despite all the criticism, especially in the past few weeks, DeMarcus Cousins buys in.
“I believe we have all the right pieces,” said Cousins. “We just have to put the pieces in place and make them work.”
Although the most recent ‘controversy’ is only days old, this one is not of their own doing. It is one based on reputation and the only way to go about changing that reputation is to work and win. Cousins is ready to work through this trying time to better himself and his team in the process.
“I think about it every day,” said Cousins. “It’s always in the back of my head. Honestly, I don’t believe there’s really anybody in the situation that I’m in. I listen to people’s advice. I mean, everybody thinks they have the right answer, but there’s really no right answer to dealing with this. You just got to go through it.”
“With all that being said, I got to go out there and do my job on the court,” added Cousins. “I’m not playing with any of those people who is saying those things. I’m playing with people who know the real me, who believe in me, so that’s who I’m playing for. I mean, I use it as fuel, but at the end of the day I’m doing my job for people who believe in me and know the real me.”
It has been an interesting career for DeMarcus Cousins during his brief time in the NBA, but if he is ready to learn from all the trials and tribulations as he seems to indicate, the Sacramento Kings will be the ones who benefit.