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.
DeMarcus Cousins hints at ‘players-only’ meeting after blowout loss to Spurs https://t.co/K79PD5UYeW
— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) November 10, 2015
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.
DeMarcus Cousins, coach George Karl and Kings (4-7) are now 3-0 after recent team meeting following big comeback win over Raptors tonight.
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) November 16, 2015
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|
|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?
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.
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.
Don't agree with the furniture layout but I'm not an interior designer. pic.twitter.com/23PNgQB88z
— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) July 9, 2015
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:
— DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) June 23, 2015
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.