DeMarcus Cousins and NBA referees simply don’t get along. Cousins has long felt referees treat him unfairly and are out to get him, while referees don’t appreciate his hot temper and propensity to berate them for what he feels are unjust calls.
Usually, this volatile relationship gets played out on the court in the form of fouls and yelling and technicals, with fines coming later for the Kings’ star center. However, in a recent feature on the Kings’ mercurial star, ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz details an incident that took place between Cousins and veteran NBA referee Bennett Salvatore in a preseason rules meeting in Las Vegas.
Salvatore was explaining the new points of emphasis for the season, when he mentioned that referees want to have dialogue with players about calls and there input. This got a rise out of Cousins, who has received plenty of technicals for call complaints.
“This is bulls—!” Cousins yells at Salvatore. “They don’t want to listen!”
“Take a deep breath!”
“No you take a deep breath!”
Cousins explained to Arnovitz that his frustration lies in being told things like this by officials, but then receiving different treatment than other players, especially other stars around the league when he tries to talk to refs during a game.
From Cousins’ perspective, it goes like this: In the captains’ circle, prior to opening tip, officials tell players that if there are any questions during the game, addressed in an appropriate manner, officials are happy to answer them. “First quarter, I come up to a ref,” Cousins says. “He says, ‘I don’t want to talk.’ You call their name and they ignore you. Their issue is, ‘You have to respect us.’ My whole issue is, ‘You guys feel like you’re above us.'”
Over his career, Cousins has amassed 107 technical fouls and leads the league again this season with 14 already — he led the NBA in 2015-16 with 17 technicals. It’s clear that Cousins’ issues with officiating don’t go away when he’s off the court. The issue of foul calls and officials not giving him a fair shake when discussing calls is something that is ever-present, even in the meeting room.