In just two seasons in the NBA, Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has completed the quadfecta of "players with character issues" by getting benched, suspended, punched by a teammate and kicked off a team plane.
The Kings have taken measures to appease their young, high-maintenance superstar, (i.e. firing Paul Westphal), but as Matt Moore of Pro Basketball Talk points out, Cousins has remained temperamental and, by most accounts, disliked.
It seems the team has now moved onto plan B.
Sacramento followed its 2010 choice to draft one of the most unpopular players in American sports with two of its most beloved: Jimmer Fredette, a clean-cut senior from ultra-conservative BYU, and Thomas Robinson, who left school a year early for the pros to take care of his young sister after his mom and grandparents died just weeks apart.
Pairing problem players with strong, demanding figures is common practice in any sport. The Kings, however, seem to be approaching Cousins like the well-intentioned parents of a kid starting to hang with the wrong crowd. By surrounding him with high-character teammates, maybe Cousins will glean some of this positive influence and go from “total jerk” to “tolerable jerk.”
Of course, the entire plan hinges on how effective Fredette and Robinson can be on the court, but the Kings are gambling (insert Maloof brothers joke here) on a winning attitude begetting a winning culture.
With the team’s future in Sacramento in doubt, these new positive role models will have more than their performance on the court gauging their success.