Sunday Musings: DeMarcus Cousins makes a stand against Chris Paul

 Chris Paul and Isaiah Thomas. (Photo: Tobin Halsey)

It’s no secret that there are plenty of players around the NBA that do not like DeMarcus Cousins or his antics.  He is immature, brash and often times out of control.  He is working on his issues, but Cousins plays angry.  So other players take shots at him, and they bait him with the hopes that they can get inside his head and facilitate a rash decision from the talented young center.

While he is a target on the court, Cousins also takes a beating in the media for being a malcontent.  It’s very likely that he will face this type of scrutiny for the remainder of his NBA career.

On Saturday afternoon, the media generator fired up again, this time because Cousins grabbed teammate Isaiah Thomas following the Kings’ 103-102 loss to the LA Clippers and ushered him away from Chris Paul, leaving the All-Star guard “hanging.”

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“That’s just DeMarcus,” Thomas told members of the media following the game.  “He gets upset, and he doesn’t like anybody.  That’s my big man.  I’m saying he doesn’t like anybody on the other team.  That’s just how he is.”

The instant reaction varied, but most of it was negative.  It was viewed by many as just another episode of “DeMarcus being DeMarcus.”  But I disagree.

There is no question that Cousins is wrong a lot of the time, but on Saturday afternoon, he was spot-on.

Paul and his Clippers are not friends of the Sacramento Kings, and it is not a situation where a couple of dudes can just go out and have a couple of beers and work it out.  This is becoming a full-blown rivalry, regardless of the win-loss records of the teams.

Blood is thicker than water in the NBA.  And your teammates are your blood.  Regardless of how good Paul is as a player, he has continuously disrespected Cousins and in doing so, Cousins’ teammates.

While Paul was trying to show respect to Thomas after another great game off the Kings’ bench, he didn’t have the decency to show that respect in the game.  In fact, Paul has made a habit out of playing a dirty, embarrassing brand of basketball when he plays the Kings.

Paul doesn’t like Cousins, and clearly the feeling is mutual.  The last time these two teams met up, Paul intentional flopped in an attempt to get fouls called against the Sacramento’s franchise player.  They weren’t your typical type of fouls either.  What Paul did was attempt to get technical fouls called on Cousins, and the acting he employed was embarrassing.

It’s never clean when it comes to Paul and on Saturday, it was a shot that the Clippers point guard took on forward Patrick Patterson that drew the ire of Cousins.  At the 6:13 mark the fourth quarter, Patterson went high for a rebound and put it back in.  Paul flew in for the foul, but was too late and instead smacked Patterson hard in the thigh.  Cousins had a stare and a few words for Paul, but went back to the game.

This is an ongoing feud that will continue until Cousins shows that he is no longer a teapot ready to boil.

When Paul pulls out all of the stops against Cousins, it hurts the Sacramento Kings’ chance of winning the game.  Paul is the superstar; Cousins is the problem child.  Refs are always going to give Paul the benefit of the doubt and assume the worst out of Cousins.  It is the unfortunate reality of being DeMarcus Cousins, but it is also the unfortunate reality of playing alongside Cousins.

Following the previous Kings-Clippers matchup, Paul refused to talk about Cousins.  In fact, he blatantly ignored any and all questions that mentioned Cousins directly.

You see, Chris Paul is an entertainer and in many situations, nothing more than an actor.  While he is one of the best basketball players in the world, he is also the prime example of what happens when stardom goes to your head.  He doesn’t want to play Cousins straight up.  He prefers to make a spectacle and on Saturday, that is what he got.

The whole NBA world is now watching a video of Paul standing mid-court reaching out for Thomas.  Paul has a look of amazement, like a friend has just slipped out of his hands and he is watching him plummet 20 stories.

Cousins is going to look like the bad guy, but Paul didn’t deserve a handshake from a Kings player – while he is an incredible player, he hasn’t earned it.

Handshakes are about respect.  The day that Paul wants to play NBA basketball and not community theater, then he will earn the respect that he deserves from the Kings’ players.

Following the game, Paul actually spoke on Cousins, but not in the most glowing terms.

“He(‘s) young” Paul said.  “He don’t know no better.  He needs some guidance.  It is what it is.”

Cousins has earned his reputation. There is no place in the league for Cousins’ antics, and he knows it.  He is growing up and growing out of a lot of his issues, but what is often missed is that Cousins can’t help himself.  He is extremely emotional and has some impulse control issues.  But he has gotten a lot better.

Paul really has no excuse.  He is a sideshow and his hijinks are an embarrassment.  Is he a great player?  Absolutely, there is no questioning that.  But there is no place in the league for the other element that he brings to the game.

Saturday versus the Kings, Paul scored six points in the final 1:30 of the game, including an unbelievable fall away 3-pointer and the game-winning free throw.  But that is not the takeaway from this Clippers win.  That is what we should be talking about.  Cousins may have been the guy who stepped out of line and shunned a perennial MVP candidate, but Paul has more than asked for it.

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About: James Ham

James Ham provides coverage through news analysis and in-depth interviews with Kings players and staff. James is also one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart". James graduated UC Davis with a degree in history and is happily married with two children.