DeMarcus Cousins believes he can do this. Actually, he believes he will do this: Dominate the competition during Team USA's training session early next month in Las Vegas. Impress coach Mike Krzyzewski. Defy the odds, overcome the skeptics, and convince USA Basketball czar Jerry Colangelo to slip him a plane ticket to the 2012 London Games.
The Beatles? Double-decker buses? The original Tower Bridge? Becoming the first King to meet the queen?
"I'm not going there (Las Vegas) just to practice," Cousins reiterated Monday after meeting briefly with local media. "I can make that team."
Cousins' intentions and bold pronouncements aside, his presence on the final U.S. Olympic roster would be a massive upset, on par with Angola bouncing the United States out of the medal round. His addition to the men's Select team the young, emerging NBA stars enlisted to practice against the Olympians from July 5-12 while improving their prospects for future world championship and Olympic teams was secured only after some impassioned lobbying by Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof.
Cousins' wild and stormy reputation still hurts. USA Basketball officials live in fear of one of their players inciting an international incident. But Cousins, who has matured immensely since his unofficial pro debut two years ago at the Las Vegas Summer League, is working on it.
"My main focus is to come back a better leader," Cousins said Monday. "Learning from the elite guys in this league, who are already leaders on their team, just picking up habits from them "
With the nucleus of the U.S. roster pretty well set with Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, among others, the only way Cousins gets a serious look is if injuries continue claiming frontcourt stars; Tyson Chandler is the only legitimate center among the finalists.
"I'll take the underdog role," Cousins insisted.
Since Cousins seemed so caught up in his Olympic prospects and in such a good mood after Monday's brief media session, we subjected him to a quickie quiz, with the topics limited to 1992 and thereafter. Without giving away his final score, let's just say he would probably want to borrow a cheat sheet before repeating the exam.
OK, so what do you remember about the original Dream Team?
How they just dominated.
I mean, I didn't actually see them play. I was only 2 years old at the time. But I've seen footage, checked them out on YouTube.
Can you name the NBA star who was most impressive in Barcelona?
Michael Jordan. (Answer: Charles Barkley.)
What was the first USA team to lose a game after NBA stars gained eligibility in 1992?
(Laugh) I don't know. (Answer: Team USA finished sixth at the 2002 world championships in Indianapolis.)
What was the next U.S. team to falter in international competition?
I don't know. (Answer: The 2004 Olympic team that was embarrassed by Puerto Rico and finished third in Athens.)
What was the last USA team to lose in international competition?
Don't know. (Answer: The 2006 world championship team in Japan.)
Which current Kings official won a gold medal in the Sydney Games in 2000?
A Kings official? Someone with us now? Um I don't know. (Answer: Shareef Abdur-Rahim.)
Who coached the 2004 Olympic team?
I don't know.
You're getting me on all this trivia! (Answer: Larry Brown.)
Who was Drazen Petrovic?
He was with Vlade. He was the Michael Jordan of overseas, a great, great shooter who used to play for the New Jersey Nets. I know him. He was a baller. (Answer: The late Petrovic was Divac's teammate on Yugoslavia's teams in the late 1980s and captained Croatia's silver-medal squad in Barcelona.)
What former King captained Lithuania in the Barcelona Games?
In 1992? I was 2 years old! (Answer: Sarunas Marciulionis.)
Did you know Mitch Richmond was an Olympian (1996)?
Can you name any of the USA's Olympic coaches?
Any others? Have you heard of Chuck Daly?
Chuck Daly? I've heard of him.
Who will be the USA's toughest opponent?
Spain, because they have the brothers (Pau and Marc Gasol).
Who does Manu Ginobili play for?
Who will be the best American player in London?