As we all know, DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans following the NBA All-Star game last Sunday night. Nearly everyone applauded the move, and rightfully so.
Boogie was able to join Anthony Davis to create the most formidable frontcourt duo the NBA has seen since David Robinson and Tim Duncan. The NBA world was fascinated by the idea of “fire and ice,” the nickname given to the duo by Boogie himself, and the Big Blue Nation went crazy to see two stars of the Kentucky family on the same squad.
For Cousins, it was a much-needed fresh start.
The phrases “toxic,” “crybaby,” “locker room cancer,” “chemistry killer” and countless others have been thrown around in reference to Cousins in his six-year career in Sacramento, none of which appropriately characterize the former Kentucky center. We know him as a big ole’ friendly teddy bear that would give the shirt off his back without thinking twice, combined with a competitive nature, ready to go to war for his teammates.
In the NBA, his incredible character traits have been lost in translation. If you ask the media, at least.
The countless hours of community service and hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to charity aren’t in the headlines. “Santa Cuz” and his time spent helping the less fortunate isn’t publicized.
It’s the temper tantrums, technical fouls, and media blowouts that turn heads. Cousins’ on-court success has been riddled with asterisks since day one.
“He’s a talented player, but…”
The Kings held him hostage in a toxic environment, and showed no promise of making significant change around him. Despite developing into the greatest big man the league has seen since Shaquille O’Neal, his “character flaws” shined through.
In Cousins’ world, the “bad boy” persona media placed on him outweighed the talent, and he quickly became a public enemy.
Roughly 83 miles down the road from Sacramento, however, a winning culture has given All-Star forward Draymond Green a free ticket to act how he pleases with little repercussions. And that’s bullshit.
Despite Green’s knack for kicking opponents in the groin, massive outbursts toward officials and coaches, and relentless trash talk, no one seems to bat an eye. It’s been brought up on afternoon sports talk shows on ESPN, but the narrative seems to always fall back on his on-court abilities. He has been able to remain hidden in a cast of All-Stars, and winning has masked the backlash of fines, suspensions, and immense media scrutiny.
He even has several montages on YouTube documenting his dirtiest plays and excessive trash talking:
In the media’s eyes, he’s certainly rough around the edges, but the focus is on the talent he brings to Golden State and how lucky the team is to have him.
Don’t get me wrong, Green is an unbelievable talent and has really found his niche on a championship roster. He’s a big reason the Warriors won the title back in 2015 and went on the most historic regular season run in NBA history the year after. There’s no denying it.
But his antics should be in the spotlight just as much as his impressive highlights.
So why does the media treat DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green differently?
For Green, it’s considered “passion” and “competitive nature.” “It’s just Draymond,” they say. He gets a pass because his actions haven’t been detrimental to team chemistry. Yet.
On Thursday night, Green went on an emotional tirade against the Los Angeles Clippers where he lashed out at referees for a call and stormed off the court. His temper tantrum earned him a technical foul, his ninth of the year, but the Warriors still managed to score 123 points en-route to a double-digit victory. The tirade was immediately lost in the shuffle.
Golden State is now 49-9 on the year, and Draymond will continue to be celebrated for his contributions on the floor.
Winning masks all flaws.
When the media discusses Green, they discuss his versatility and unique skill-set as a big man to do all of the “little things” it takes to win a ring. He rebounds well, runs the floor, passes, and he’s a physical scorer. He does it all.
Green was placed beautifully in Golden State, the perfect complement to his game. He has two of the greatest shooters in NBA history with the defensive focus centered on them, and all he has to do is play cleanup duty and reap the benefits. Kevin Durant’s arrival has only emphasized this.
Green will continue to kick opponents and throw temper tantrums, but as long as it doesn’t interfere with the Warriors’ winning ways, no one will care.
For Boogie, he couldn’t have been in a more polar opposite position in Sacramento. Teams were able to double and triple-team him in the post because they were well aware of the rest of the team’s shortcomings. Rudy Gay, an above-average wing by NBA standards, was the only consistent contributor outside of Cousins in his tenure in Sacramento.
The other talent they managed to place around Cousins was moved in various trades for pennies on the dollar. Isaiah Thomas and Hassan Whiteside are now dominating for other organizations with absolutely zero return for Sacramento. But hey, at least seasoned veterans like Kosta Koufos, Arron Afflalo, and Darren Collison have managed to stick around garnering a plethora of minutes. Woof.
When you look at the draft, you see Nik Stauskas, Thomas Robinson, and Ben McLemore, three guys the Kings selected in the top ten. Three shots, and they missed on every one. Two years ago, they drafted former Kentucky star Willie Cauley-Stein at No. 6, a move Kentucky fans were certainly excited for. At the time it was enticing to think of a frontcourt of both Boogie and WCS, but he is absolutely not a guy you build a team around. He’s a complementary asset you add to take your team from good to great.
Sacramento has proven time and time again they are the most clueless front office in all of professional sports. They created a losing atmosphere, and the NBA world expected Cousins to remain sane.
If you wasted your prime years in a barren wasteland of an organization, for a front office that swung and missed time and time again in the NBA Draft, free agency, and trade circuit, you’d realize keeping your composure was nearly impossible. Hell, the only reason he went to the Pelicans among a slew of other offers was because the Sacramento front office felt Buddy Hield was the next Steph freaking Curry.
Seriously. What does that tell you about who Cousins was dealing with?
And let’s not act like the Kings rallied behind their star big man, either.
Throughout his career, Cousins was being actively shopped around the league, but was always told face-to-face he had nothing to worry about, he would not be traded. The front office denied the talks every time. Last weekend, Kings GM Vlade Divac continued to tell the media the rumors were false, even following the All-Star Game. Both Cousins and his agents were assured yet again he was the franchise centerpiece and would never be moved.
He was traded 40 minutes later.
For six seasons, Cousins was condemned in Sacramento, made out to carry more baggage than reward in the long haul. Hell, media members like Bill Plaschke of ESPN said Cousins was unwanted by everyone in the NBA and didn’t deserve to be on the 2016 Olympic roster because he didn’t represent our country well enough. It was a non-stop charade, his flaws were always placed on a golden plate and shoved down everyone’s throats.
Cousins had every reason to be frustrated in Sacramento. I would be, and so would you.
But what is Draymond’s excuse?
Is he winning too much? Is he upset because he has become the fourth option on a championship team? Boo-hoo. Cousins would kill to be in that position.
When Boogie was at Kentucky, he had no problems. Coach Cal loved him, his teammates rallied behind him, and he was a fan-favorite from the very start.
Fighting to be a winner in a losing situation can only last so long before you drive yourself nuts.
The Pelicans have a long way to go before making a legitimate splash in the Playoffs, but a change of scenery was a fantastic step in the right direction for the most misunderstood player in the league. Cousins deserves to be appreciated for his talents, not chastised for his flaws. Especially when Draymond Green is being praised by the talking heads on ESPN for similar behavior.
New Orleans, please develop a winning culture so people can see the real Boogie. The BBN is begging you.