Sunday Musings: Is DeMarcus Cousins a media punching bag?


In basketball, there are media favorites such as Stephen Curry and Blake Griffin. DeMarcus Cousins has never been one of those favorites. Cousins pops up in the media circles when he gets into it with referees or the state of his franchise is in doubt.

The NBA would love nothing more than to move the All-Star big man away from the “small market” town of Sacramento, but the local fans will have none of it — and neither will Cousins.

If Cousins played anywhere else, his stunning year would be highlighted positively but since he plays in Sacramento, the conflict tag overshadows all the good he does on the court and in the community.

Cousins started a highly publicized “players only” meeting on November 10th that turned into a player, coach, and front office meeting. It has been reported that things were quite heated and that some curses were thrown out by Cousins at head coach, George Karl.

Whatever was truly said, only the players, coaches, and Vlade Divac will ever know. Whatever it was, it worked! It worked so well that the Kings won their next three games.

Cousins had three epic games, scoring 109 points in those three games, and pulling down 32 rebounds. That is 36.34 PPG and 10.67 RPG — a monster line to say the least. Over those three games, he also shot 60 percent from behind the arc and had a field goal percentage of 51 percent.

“The sky is the limit for him,” Quincy Acy told Cowbell Kingdom. “If he hitting the three, who can guard him?”

His season has been more than those three games, though. Cousins has been outstanding since the beginning of the season. Let’s take a look:

Note: Below numbers do not include the Clippers game in which Cousins only played half of the game.

NOV 18, 2015 – SAC vs. ORL W 40 29 42.1 0 86.7 12 6 3 3 4 2
NOV 18, 2015 – SAC vs. ATL L 34 24 35 1 .81.8 12 3 0 0 3 4
NOV 15, 2015 – SAC vs. TOR W 41 36 54.5 3 75 10 3 1 3 3 3
NOV 13, 2015 – SAC vs. BKN W 34 40 48.1 2 92.3 13 1 0 1 1 6
NOV 11, 2015 – SAC vs. DET W 38 33 52.4 4 63.6 9 1 0 1 4 3
NOV 09, 2015 – SAC vs. SAS L 32 21 25 0 73.3 12 3 2 1 4 2
OCT 30, 2015 – SAC vs. LAL W 28 21 33.3 0 78.6 11 3 0 2 0 3
OCT 28, 2015 – SAC vs. LAC L 35 32 47.6 4 72.7 13 3 0 1 8 6
Totals 282 236 338 14 542.2 92 23 6 12 27 29
Per game Average 35.3 29.5 42.3 1.8 67.8 11.5 2.9 0.8 1.5 3.4 3.6

As you can see, Cousins is averaging 29.5 points, 11.5 Rebounds, 1.5 Blocks and has hit 14 3-pointers so far (previous to this season, he had 11 in his entire career). These numbers are impressive, but they don’t tell the whole story.

What separates a great player from a Hall of Fame player?

A great player puts up unbelievable stats. But a Hall of Fame player makes his entire team better every time he steps onto the court.

Let’s look at an example:

How does Rudy Gay play with and without Cousins?

With Cousins 0.538 0.375 0.45 5.75 3.25 1.5 0.75 0.25 2.25 17.5
Without Cousins 0.363 0.25 0.791 6.25 2.25 2.25 1.25 0.25 3.5 16.25

These stats show how much better Gay plays with Cousins on the floor. His field goal percentage goes from a horrible 36.3 percent to an outstanding 53.8 percent, and his 3-point percentage climbs from 25 percent to 37.5 percent. Gay’s rebounds go down, but that’s because Cousins pulls down so many for himself. The short version is that Gay plays better when Cousins is on the floor.

Sacramento Kings teammates Ryan Hollins, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay take a selfie. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

I am not saying Cousins is a Hall of Fame player, but he sure has the potential to become that. It’s really up to him now. He has the full package but now it’s a mental game for him.

So then why are most media members so blind to admit the amazing year Cousins is having? Is it because of his location?

It sure seems that way from here. In the Sacramento area, most fans do not trust the league, and they have a good reason after the 2002’s highly questionable playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. Now they are starting to distrust the national media for what looks like the same reason — manipulation towards larger markets and the larger market’s star players.

Let’s see some examples:

Clipper’s forward Griffin tweeted this out during one of the most despicable free agency moves in NBA history.

How did the media respond? Mark Sandritter from SB Nation said,  “Blake Griffin won the DeAndre Jordan saga with perfect Twitter jokes.”

They think he won the saga? He was a part of an all out thievery that cost another franchise dearly. It was so far below the belt it was on the floor.

Had the same thing happened with Cousins’ move to another city, and the Kings’ players barricaded themselves with him until he resigned with the team, do you think for one second that the national media would have called any of it funny or creative?

No is the answer.

Now let’s look at how they react to news from Cousins:

Dime Magazine immediately put out this headline: “Here’s why Carmelo Anthony, Ray Allen, and other former players feel George Karl is a snake.”

It included quotes like these: “Sacramento Kings coach George Karl is reportedly fomenting a rebellion of sorts by shaping a cadre of players and front office personnel in support of his plans to trade All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins.”

It is hard not to see the inflammatory words: fomenting, rebellion, cadre. The use of these words makes Karl’s and Cousins’ relationship seem like that of two warring factions, rather than a minor dispute that would be solved by the start of the season.

Let’s check out this other headline about Cousins:

“Watch The Cheap Shot That Got DeMarcus Cousins Suspended For One Game”

***That was the original headline of the video before they changed it

If you pause this video at the one-second mark, you can clearly see Al Horford pushing against Cousins’ neck. Some have even called it choking. It is not being alleged that Cousins is innocent because he is as guilty as sin in this instance.

But there are two things that need to be said. Since Cousins was suspended one game for the elbow, which barely connected, Horford should have also been suspended for his actions. Secondly, the use of the word “cheap shot” seems inflammatory given that the two were in clear contact and Horford had already pushed Cousins. This is the type of bias that makes Sacramento sports fans distrust the leadership at the major networks, and news sources, as well as the leadership at the league offices.

It is easy to show many more versions of the same bias, but it is unnecessary because Kings fans are aware it exists and are sick and tired of being a national media punching bag. In Sacramento, the fans are turning more frequently to local sources for everything. They are not alone; all small market teams feel this pain.

The NBA and the national media may want him to move to a larger market or play for a different team, but the front office has been very reluctant to move him. Cousins has been on the record many times talking about his loyalty towards the city of Sacramento and has really been a great member of the community. (He recently payed for the funeral expenses of a teen football player who was shot and killed).

It is important to note that Cousins is “Sacramento Proud” and the vast majority of the Sacramento fanbase is proud to have him.


Joe Morgan on Twitter
Joe Morgan
Producer of the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast. Retired Marine, so I am loud, ornery and opinionated. I love everything about our city of Sacramento and all of the suburbs surrounding it.

5 Replies to "Sunday Musings: Is DeMarcus Cousins a media punching bag?"

  • comment-avatar
    November 22, 2015 (8:45 am)

    Cuz is the best big man in the game. With that being said, he deserves the negative press he receives. His loose cannon attitude has not changed much in 6 years. If the Kings are winning, he’s ok. If the Kings play a good team, like the Warriors and get smoked, look for Cuz to start getting hostile or even pick up a T. He is not mature enough to keep his emotions in check. Kings are a much improved team, but Cuz must think the Kings are in the same class as the Clips, Warriors, or Spurs. Their not, and it’s not even close. Until Cuz shows a better sense of modicum on the court and leads this team to a decent record in the regular season, he will continue to draw the ire of the media.

    • comment-avatar
      November 22, 2015 (11:18 am)

      Actually his attitude has improved alot he isnt getting nearly as many techs he is becoming a leader on both sides of the floor.also on the article as a kings fan when I see a title like Kings dysfunction I wont listen mainly because not very many of them now alot on the situation

    • comment-avatar
      Rich Davis
      November 23, 2015 (12:52 am)

      Cousins brings some, or a lot, of it on himself by not concealing one iota of his contempt for the media. Anybody that doesn’t know him would undoubtedly be surprised to find that he’s a gregarious and loud joker. Shaq was the exact same way — a real clown in private, and a dark cloud in post games. I don’t blame them. The media are cockroaches and vultures. ALL MEDIA!

      It’s pretty fucking obvious Cousins doesn’t give a shit. As they frequently remind, while no one listens, all that matters is that they know what’s going on. They being the guys in the locker room, not the panty dorks in the hall. Karl can scoff at the media, and call them “you all,” but the media will always believe some asshole named “Sources” rather the what they hear right out of the horses mouth — which always amounts to some version of, “You all are blowing it all out of proportion.”

      That’s probably my favorite thing about Karl. He insults the media almost every time he opens his mouth. But he gets away with it, because he has a far superior delivery than Cousins will ever have. But know this. The list off HOF centers crucified by the media is a pretty long one. Wilt was hated. Kareem was hated. Ewing was mercilessly abused. And Shaq took a great deal of punishment. Fuck, even LeBron gets routinely roasted. It comes with the job. Not everybody can be a Dobie ass Gillis, Davis or Curry. “Hunky dorry fellas, what can I do ya for.!”

      Fans may prefer happy go lucky, or pure class, but the players are not obligated to kiss the media’s ass. They have to talk to them, but they don’t have to pretend to like it. I’ve never been one to care how guys are off the field. Cousins could be a better basketball player, but he’s pretty damn good already, and gets better every year. If the Kings ever prove they can win more than 20% of their games without him, maybe I’ll start looking at him for answers. Until then, he’s the least of our problems.

  • comment-avatar
    Chris Spears
    November 22, 2015 (1:09 pm)

    Karl said it himself: Cuz is a player who hates to lose. Are you really saying that you’d rather have someone that was happy whether his team won or lost? That’s a player who’s thinking “I don’t care, either way I’m getting paid.” Cuz wants to win and he wants to win here, and I’m perfectly okay with him getting a T trying to do that

  • comment-avatar
    J W
    November 22, 2015 (4:18 pm)

    “It is easy to show many more versions of the same bias, but it is unnecessary because Kings fans are aware it exists and are sick and tired of being a national media punching bag. ”

    Actually, there’s a lot of benefit to making a case (with examples) of how the media has manipulated the message against Demarcus throughout his career.

    If a media member would step up and publish it and stand behind it, it could be used as a basis/precedent to aid the narrative changing re: Demarcus and (by extension) the Kings.

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