The last thing DeMarcus Cousins needs is another apologist.
For six seasons, the Sacramento Kings’ star player has whined, thrown on-court temper tantrums, sucker-punched an opposing player, gotten ejected from multiple games, served multiple suspensions, and bullied his coaches and his teammates without shame.
Now that he has so blatantly threatened a journalist – angrily poking a finger in the face of Sacramento Bee sports columnist Andy Furillo in a video that has bounced all over the internet – one would think things might be different. That enough might finally be enough.
But in Kings coach Dave Joerger, it appears he has found another short-sighted defender, who seems inclined to let Cousins off with a slap on the wrist, rather than mete out appropriate punishment.
“I do think what The Sacramento Bee did the other day was just ridiculous,” Joerger said Sunday, of a column by Bee Executive Editor Joyce Terhaar that put Cousins on blast for his treatment of Furillo and other journalists.
“This guy is the face of our franchise,” Joerger continued. “He’s done and said some things that he wishes he could do over. He’s improved; he’s gotten better. But to go and use other reporters, third person, oh he bullies his coaches or he bullies, that is (trash). And to put it out there like that, that is ridiculous.”
To the contrary. Actually, what is “ridiculous” is the way the Kings management keeps downplaying the destructive and dispiriting behavior of an immature 26-year-old man who hasn’t yet learned how to be the leader his team so desperately needs.
Given chance after chance to step up, Cousins makes the same mistakes season after season. Holding grudges against journalists, refusing to answer their questions despite his contractual union obligation to do so, is nothing new.
In November 2012, for example, the NBA suspended him for two games after he confronted TV analyst and former NBA player Sean Elliott over comments Elliott made during a telecast. And yet, last Monday, Cousins – all 6 feet, 11 inches of him – decided it was a good idea to try to intimidate Furillo over a column that mentioned a widely publicized case about the arrest of Cousins’ brother, Jaleel.
“Don’t ever mention my brother again. You don’t know my f------ brother,” Cousins shouted. “Say whatever you want about me, but don’t mention my m------------ family.”
The Kings say they are reviewing the incident, as they should. The NBA should investigate, too. But more than that, the Kings management must change how it works with Cousins.
Too often, he avoids consequences for his actions because, with a Olympic gold medal and a couple of All-Star Games under his belt, he’s one of the most talented players in the NBA – and let’s face it, the Kings need all the help they can get.
We understand Joerger’s desire to build rapport with Cousins, given that so many other coaches lost their jobs for failing to do so, but that doesn’t mean he has to be a pushover. We also understand the team’s desire to hang on to an immensely talented player, but it’s wise to remember that even with Cousins on the roster, the Kings are still losing and have been for years.
No one wants to watch a team go down in flames, especially one led by a man who, while often selfless with his money and time to youths in struggling Sacramento neighborhoods, is prone to selfish outbursts on the court. The seats are sold out, but there’s a reason that people head to the bars or home before the games are over.
For the good of the team and the fans who pay good money for season tickets, it’s time for the Kings to stop enabling Cousins.