A ton of great stories resonated from the NBA this summer. From Team USA’s dominance at the London Games, the free agent free-for-all, Jay-Z’s Barclays housewarming and everything in between, the return of pro basketball couldn’t come at a better time. And DeMarcus Cousins’ realization of “it” may be the greatest, yet unheralded one of them all.
Since Boogie Cousins entered the NBA in 2010, he’s quietly remained a player I’ve invested interest in for a variety of reasons. I was always a fan of his game at Kentucky, regardless of the attitude urban legends. I always believed he was unfairly painted as the dickhead in his tug-of-war with former coach Paul Westphal. Granted, no halo over resides DeMarcus’ head or angel wings growing out of his back, but believing the situation was totally his fault is similar to believing a person says they didn’t see any rain from Sandy and they live anywhere between Virginia Beach and Boston. Finally, in my heart of hearts – and this is a work in progress – I truly believe DeMarcus Cousins could be the best big man in basketball. Not necessarily now, but in the future.
The running theory of the 2012-2013 Sacramento Kings says they’re a team with talent littered throughout their roster, but too young and too unidentifiable to make any noise. The question is what sort of “noise”? Realisitcally, only Miami, Boston, Los Angeles (the Lakers, even though Clipper Nation will state their case all season), Oklahoma City and San Antonio appear to be the only five with any actual shot at being the last man standing in June. But if “noise” is referred to as anybody with a pulse making the figurative turn from decent to “shit-something’s-brewing-over-there,” DeMarcus Cousins is that guy.
For one, he was labelled as the bully of Team USA scrimmages this past summer because, check this, he was being too physical. Or as Carmelo Anthony put it, “He fouled the shit out of everyone.” A NBA player being physical? And pissing everyone off in the process? And not caring that he pissed everyone off? That’s awesome in every sense of the word. And what’s even better was his response as to why. Basically, Cousins admitted the teams were unevenly stacked and his squad was getting the piss beat out of them. The Olympians began playing physical, and instead of backing down he, well, fouled the shit out of everyone. Simple as that.
A newly minted father, DeMarcus stands on the cusp of a foreign phase. There’s added responsibility and there’s an added enthusiasm to approaching basketball. He changed his diet, increased his workout habits and had anyone who witnessed his play this offseason experience multiple fangasms. There’s always this certain excitement factor when believing a player finally gets “it.” Geoff Petrie saw “it,” and picked up Boogie’s option for next year. You know, “it” being the switch to basically say “not one player in this league can fuck with me.” Yeah, that “it.”
Already with an offensive game more polished than Dwight Howard’s and more durable than Andrew “Frederick Douglass” Bynum, Cousins doesn’t really give much of a damn about either player or rankings. Or anyone in the league not named his teammates or John Wall, for that matter. He’s a throwback-attitude style of player with a silky smooth game who is only entering his third season with a cruise liner-worth of potential stacked upon his broad shoulders.
With an improving Isiah Thomas at point, Tyreke Evans vowing to have a monster (contract) year and the feel-good rookie of the year, Thomas Robinson, playing cleanup in the paint alongside him, at least on paper Boogie and the Kings have promise. It’s no secret winning in basketball requires as much mental brass as it does physical. DeMarcus appears to be on the verge of getting the two to commingle and if said hybrid happens, we could all be witnessing the emergence of a perennial All Star in the making. One capable of averaging 24 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks per night because he quietly put up 18-11-2-1 last year in those same categories. And a player capable of providing some of the greatest and unfiltered interviews this side of Charles Barkley.
DeMarcus Cousins can be that good. He should be that good. The keyword in those sentences being “can” and “should.” It’s why his trainer, Keith Williams, believes something special is on the cusp. “I think a light has clicked on. It’s not as bright as we want it to be, but it’s getting there.”
And that’s fine. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the Kings aren’t winning a title this year (or next) anyway. Lord knows I didn’t have the world figured out at 22 either because the fact of the matter is I still don’t at 26. Yet, in a league which’ll drive the narratives of the Lakers/Clippers/Knicks/Nets battle battle for their respective cities, how the Thunder respond in the post-Harden era, Miami and Boston’s inevitable collision course and Derrick Rose’s return down our throats, I’ll also be paying attention to see if Boogie jumps the curve. I want him to. Hell, I need to him to, thus validating the silent hype for him. If he does, the Kings will prosper as a result. And those DeMarcus vs. Dwight and DeMarcus vs. Blake Griffin matchups will begin to parent a lot more national attention. And the Kings will once again be on the road to relevancy for the first time since the Chris Webber/Mike Bibby days.
I digress, however. How I just spent the last 950 or so words writing about Boogie Cousins and Sacramento Kings is a testament to being thankful for being one of the few people on the East Coast with electricity. Whatever the case may be, the original idea remains in tact.
Just don’t make me look like an idiot, DeMarcus. Please.