What the old adage? Mess with the bull and you get the horns?
I like a little attitude in my big men. And I don’t mean that psychotic-fake attitude Kevin Garnett exudes (I love KG and I don’t mind him being a jerk but even I can admit how he runs after taking a swing) or the fake tough guy attitude Chris Webber tried to convince everybody was his real persona. I like a good mean streak in my big man.
When Shaq was trying to break guys like Shawn Bradley in half, I enjoyed it thoroughly. When Rick Mahorn and Charles Oakley were taking shots at people and begging them to do something about it, I grinned because that’s what a big tough guy is supposed to do. He’s supposed to utilize the fact that he’s the biggest, strongest guy on the floor and make other people – even his contemporaries – scared of him.
It was a reason I could never get behind guys like Spencer Hawes. Sure, you love their insane skill set for a guy so big and you daydream about the versatility they can give your offense if the potential gets harnessed but at some point you want a guy who will check opponents cutting across the lane, immediately slam his oversized physique into a guy in order to box him out as a shot goes up and violently (yet, legally) implant an elbow into his defender’s shoulder to create space to the basket on a drop-step.
And this is what I love about DeMarcus Cousins. I admit I was really skeptical of his attitude issues and demeanor in his year at Kentucky. I thought he was potentially way too volatile to risk a top 3 pick on because you didn’t know if he was going to dig his own grave all the time. But then I saw this pre-draft interview with Cousins and realized something:
DeMarcus isn’t going to pull punches or sugarcoat anything. He has an opinion of how things are and he doesn’t fill the need to filter much. He’s too intelligent to just come out and say what’s on his mind when he can sense it will be twisted or used against him at a later date. If anything, he’s constantly reminding himself of his own Miranda Rights. He’s going to try to not say anything that will be used against him in a court of public opinion later on.
I don’t know that any of this is a problem either. But I also can’t say it won’t be a problem. With DeMarcus Cousins you’ll get a demonstrative entity capable of ruling the NBA paint. It’s not so much a question of how good is he? It’s more of a question of how good will he allow himself to be?
DeMarcus isn’t a bad guy or a potential cancer. He’s just not interested in playing the media game and trying to portray a PR-friendly image. If you like what he says then that’s great. If you don’t then it’s probably on you. He’s very Charles Barkley in that way and I think it’s a good thing.
So when reading this piece from Marc Spears about the pressure possibly headed DMC’s way, I loved this little snippet about his views on being picked behind fellow big man Derrick Favors:
”I believe everything happens for a reason,” Cousins said. ”But I can’t wait to play them because I’m going at their necks, especially the big that got picked before me.”
That ”big” is Georgia Tech power forward Derrick Favors, who was selected by the Nets third overall. Favors was the only post player selected among the top four picks. Considering the Nets’ most heralded player is center Brook Lopez, drafting another true center like Cousins didn’t make sense for the team’s needs.
After Cousins scored 16 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in his preseason debut against Phoenix, he couldn’t help but chuckle to himself when he learned Favors had four points and one rebound in 13 minutes against Philadelphia earlier that night.
”I’m trying to see what’s so special,” Cousins said of Favors. ”…I guess that’s what they really needed on their team. I really don’t know. ‘
”I feel I was the best big to come out of college. For another big to get picked before me, I have a problem with that.”
But here’s the thing. This isn’t the first shot he’s taken at a big man this year. Remember when the Lakers won their second title in a row and he had this to say about Andrew Bynum?
And this is why I love the attitude in DeMarcus Cousins. He has a bravado you can’t teach at all. It’s inherent. He doesn’t know how to be another way and I doubt he would care to change it in anyway.
This is what you should want in your big, mean giants on the court. I don’t want guys going out there to just earn their paycheck and grab stats. I want punishers in the paint. I want guys that leave bruises on their opponents. I want bloody noses, sore bones and weary muscles from fighting with a tough post player all night long. This is why I love the Kings new direction of being bigger and tougher than everybody else on the court.
They have a size advantage that will benefit them most nights. Maybe they can’t keep up with Orlando, Phoenix and even Golden State when everything is clicking but I doubt those teams will walk away without feeling that game physically. Landry is tough as nails, Jason Thompson is more and more active/physical as he learns the game better and Dalembert isn’t afraid to get into the thick of it to sway away some shot attempts.
And they’ll all be molded around a tough SOB who doesn’t care if you like what he has to say or not. DeMarcus should think he’s better than Derrick Favors because he is. He should want to take shots at brittle big men like Bynum because he thinks he tougher. You want guys like Cousins to have this attitude because there is no reason to duck anybody in this league. You don’t want a team that will sneak into the later round of the NBA playoffs. You want a team full of guys who want to take on the toughest road to the NBA title.
DeMarcus is that type of guy. He’s going to smack you in the mouth, tell you about it and then beat you. Maybe he won’t always say the right thing but pro sports has enough of those guys who say too much without saying anything at all.
Mess with DeMarcus Cousins and you get the horns. And those horns are made out of a bravado that not many other big men can honestly match.