You can easily find a hundred stories on the internet from media folk around the country, a few in particular, filled with negative perceptions of DeMarcus Cousins. The people with the biggest, most public forums and the loudest voices have crafted a persona and an image for DeMarcus Cousins over the years. And that image is not always the most pleasant.
With that said, you can just as easily find a hundred stories from the folks around the state of Kentucky, some too young to have a voice yet, filled with nothing but positive interactions and experiences with DeMarcus Cousins. Most of these people do not have thousands of Twitter followers. Most of these people do not make a living reporting to the masses, and creating images of people for others who may not have firsthand knowledge of the situation to buy into. Many of these people are young children, who have not read the stories, heard the rumors or formed opinions on DeMarcus Cousins based on his past. These children simply have one thing to go on when they form their perceptions of Cousins: how important and special he made them feel.
Some of you may have already seen the picture (we posted it Sunday on KSR) of a young boy holding DeMarcus Cousins’ monster basketball shoe. I had the good fortune of talking with the young boy’s father and learning a few more details from the story.
Patrick Mallory and his son Tate found themselves like many others sitting in Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon basking in the glow of a once-in-a-lifetime Kentucky basketball experience. For Mallory, the biggest treat was seeing the old players who were heroes when he was a young boy. For Tate, it’s the larger than life figures who play for the team now, the ones he has only recently become old enough to really love and understand. His Kentucky basketball experiences, memories and fanhood are just now taking form. The current players will be his Derek Andersons, his Wayne Turners and his Jeff Sheppards.
After an afternoon of fun and excitement, Patrick and his son, who were seated in section 30, row B, noticed that the fans from the upper arena were already starting to file down for autographs. Tate began to realize that the early movement down to the floor had put him toward the back of the line for autographs. Slightly disheartened, Tate and his Dad decided to wait patiently in hopes that once everyone else received their autographs, they could find their way to the back of the line.
As the players began signing autographs, Cousins came over in front of the scorer’s table and removed his shoe and began signing it. He handed it to a little boy who was right in front of him at the time. Cousins then removed his other shoe, signing it as well. The whole time, Patrick and his son were watching from their seats. Cousins was holding his shoe, scanning the crowd. By this point, Patrick was now holding Tate. Cousins and the guy standing next to him seemed to notice Tate and Patrick because they were still close to their seats, away from the majority of the crowd forming the lines. When Cousisns spotted young Tate, he climbed his way over the scorer’s table, passing plenty of other fans who were coveting the autographed shoe, and made his way to the area behind the team bench to meet Tate.
“Here you go, little man.”
That’s all it took and now Patrick says his son is completely enamoured with DeMarcus Cousins and couldn’t stop talking about the shoe. Cousins made a huge impression on young Tate, who will now have this positive memory to associate with his Kentucky basketball fandom.
Tate went home that night and when it was time for bed, he didn’t grab a stuffed animal or a blanket or anything else that a young child usually saddles up with to sleep. Instead, Tate grabbed DeMarcus’ shoe. He wasn’t ready to let go of the shoe that is bigger than his own head. The big shoe that Cousins went out of his way to make sure Tate received on Saturday, has made for an even bigger hero in Tate’s life.
Tate doesn’t care about DeMarcus Cousins’ past. Tate doesn’t care what Jeff Goodman has to say about DeMarcus Cousins. None of that matters. Tate just knows that an NBA star, nearly 7 feet tall, made it a point to notice him and make him feel special.
Tate’s story is not as easily told to the masses, but his perception of DeMarcus Cousins is a positive one. Cousins provided him with a memory. He also provided him with a new hero to look up to.