Sunday Musings: Hypervisibility and the Kings

NYC-24

It’s interesting to browse the internet and find very few quotes that illustrate DeMarcus Cousins’ life outside of basketball.

But luckily, I found one where Alejandro Danois from The Sporting News refreshingly addresses the feelings of Cousins, the human being.

“Throughout the days leading up to the draft, Cousins was again inundated with negative stories about his character, the fight with the staff member at Erwin and his alleged bad attitude, as opposed to his rare talent, tremendous potential and magnificent season at Kentucky.

‘It was the same stories all over again, people were questioning if I was going to blow up and be fat like Oliver Miller and all kinds of negative stuff,” said Cousins. “It felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. It got to the point where I realized that there was nothing I could do other than let my play speak for itself.’”

I also rediscovered this piece from our departing James Ham.  Surely, Cousins has many interests and elements to his personhood that the NBA audience may never see, and both Ham and Danois touch on why.

“Reporters gravitate to Cousins after every game.  They don’t write about his trim physique or how he backs his teammates almost to a fault in post-game pressers.  They sit back and wait for DeMarcus to be DeMarcus.  It’s what sells, and if you can capture Cousins in rare form, it is worth its weight in gold.”

With the current roster, there is an opportunity to widen this discussion of hypervisibility and really examine the impact of image presented for consumption. Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay, Caron Butler and George Karl. Up and down the roster, there are figures who can all speak on how living as a consumption impacts elements of their humanity – and by approximation, their performance on the court and overall team chemistry.

Cousins, Rondo and Gay. They are presented as a powdered casket. Perhaps Sacramento is just the place to reject that presentation.

In Rondo’s case, he was already perceived to be limited by his past in his most recent chance at a new start. The linked article from Baxter Holmes asks, “Can you really put the fate of a franchise in the hands of a point guard like this?”

Then Holmes proceeds to frame Rondo as a petulant child with little respect for authority due to his own elitism.

These sensational pieces serve a purpose – to extend the consumption of the professional basketball player beyond basketball.

“‘I was surprised, truthfully, when I saw what happened with Dallas,’ Paul Pierce told the Herald. ‘I mean, I think it just kind of spiraled out of control.

‘I didn’t see that coming. When they made the trade, I looked at Dallas as a real, real contender. Now, they had a guard who could run the show, defensively match up with the other guards of the West.

‘I’m not on the inside. I can’t tell you what happened, how it all came to that, said Steve Bulpett from the Boston Herald. I just want Rondo to be in a place where he can show people the player that he is, that he truly is.’

It remains to be seen whether Sacramento is that place.”

Gay came to Sacramento rumored as a ball-stopper on offense with little interest in defense. If his time in Sacramento has been any indication, Gay is the same star player we saw at UConn with his game matured and his team presence felt every night.

Based on his merit as an NBA player, two different fan bases (Sacramento & Toronto) have entirely different interpretations of Gay. Once traded, Gay sparked a revolution in Toronto. In Sacramento, he is in a better position for personal success.

He became a world champion. What about the constant? What about the human merit of our Kings? Gay is often in a quiet headline regarding his recent charity.

Cousins can be seen participating in many aspects of his communities, both in Sacramento and Mobile. Rondo has already had his chances at success scrutinized with little regard to the needs of the Kings. Some may suppose that human merit doesn’t amount to basketball wins. Vlade Divac would most likely disagree.

With these Kings, the Sacramento fan base has a chance to embrace the people who make up the team. Should we focus on giving these players a human chance, free from the typical sensationalism that clickbait requires?

If we do, we may see that healthy treatment translate to on-court success.

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Kimani Okearah

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