DeMarcus Cousins wears his heart on his sleeve


DeMarcus Cousins gave so many people what they wanted on Sunday night.  His postgame media session will likely play a million or more times over the next 24 hours.  More judgement will be passed on a 24-year-old basketball player who is under extreme pressure on a team that is leaking at the seams.

To clarify, Cousins isn’t crazy.  He isn’t a ranting lunatic.  He is a passionate young man who had a pre-planned speech to hand to the media.  His intent was to make a statement and then walk away from the people who had helped drag his name into the chaos that is the Sacramento Kings.

But then basketball got in the way.

Cousins walked off the floor a hero.  After a miserable two-month stretch, the ball finally bounced the Sacramento Kings’ way.  The All-Star center had tossed up a 19-foot jumper at the buzzer.  It hit the heal of the iron, then the front of the rim, and then time stood still as thousands of fans waited and watched the ball settle through the net.

The celebration was epic.  After a brutal stretch, the Kings were exuberant.  The pictures from the scene are priceless.  A moment of joy in an otherwise dismal season.

It is with that energy that Cousins walked into the locker room.  Adrenaline pumping through his 6-foot-11, 270-pound frame, he broke routine.  A creature of habit, Cousins didn’t sit in his locker stall and search through his phone like normal.  He didn’t take a quick shower and then slump down in his chair to field questions with water still dripping from his beard like he does every game.

Instead, he got dressed and he turned to face a larger than normal crowd of assembled media.  He stood to take questions, again, a break from the norm.  In the moment, it seemed odd, but in hindsight, we should have seen what was coming.  It’s been an extremely difficult couple of months, let alone couple of days.

My lead question was basic and his answer was brief but standard.

“We needed it bad,” Cousins said.  “Uplifted these guys in the locker room – we’ve been through a lot this past month.  So we definitely needed it.”

While he spoke, you could visibly see the anguish building.  My follow-up question was not intended to illicit a major reaction, but that was what followed.  Cousins had the look of a man ready to lift a car or maybe crush a beer keg on his forehead.

“No, I’m not pumped up – I’ve just got a lot on my mind,” an intense Cousins said.  “And the crazy thing about it, I’ve got a question for y’all: ‘How are you gonna stop God’s plan?  How you gonna do that?’ I’ve been put through so much and I’ve stayed loyal to it (the city) the whole time.  I just wanna know: ‘How you gonna stop God’s plan?’ God gives His hardest battles to His strongest soldiers.  The marathon continues. I’m out.”

With those final words, Cousins used his big left arm to gently clear a path through the media and exit the room.

Cousins wears his heart on his sleeve.  This is who he is.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  I really haven’t broken down his words to their root, but they are cryptic and pointed.  Maybe more importantly, they make sense to him.

The instant reaction on Twitter varied.  But there were a lot of negative comments aimed at Cousins.  That is the danger of social media.  You can have an anonymous opinion on someone and put it out there for the world to see.

We saw a few of the “he makes $13.7 million dollars” or “he plays basketball for a living” comments from fans and I would love to poke a hole in that logic.

Yes, Cousins makes a lot of money and he gets to play a game for a living.  But just for a moment, think about what his world is like.  Not the good parts of being rich and playing basketball, but the other pieces that come with the job.

The narrative surrounding Cousins has mostly been negative.  Some of that is well deserved, some of it is blown out of proportion.  But the truth is that no one likes to have someone talk behind their back, let alone thousands or perhaps millions of people that discuss your faults on a daily basis without ever even having met you.  It comes with the territory, but that is just an excuse.

DeMarcus Cousins is human.  Perhaps more human than most.  His raw emotion is what makes him a great basketball player.  It’s also what gets him in trouble sometimes.

I’m sure Cousins intended to be more eloquent with his delivery, but the moment got the best of him.  He’s had enough.  Enough of the losing.  Enough of the franchise instability.  Enough of the blame game.  And enough of the media.

At the end of the day, Cousins didn’t punch anyone.  He didn’t yell profanity or break anything.  He gave an impassioned speech and he walked away.

Oh yeah, and he is an All-Star who hit the game-winning shot as time expired on Sunday night.

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About: James Ham

James Ham is the senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news since 2010. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also contributes to ESPN.com and is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary film "Small Market, Big Heart".