DeMarcus Cousins Fires Back at O.J. Mayo

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2012

Dec 5, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) motions after scoring a basket against the Toronto Raptors during the first quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is back in the headlines once again, and not because of his talents with the basketball.

In a report by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, Cousins responded to Dallas Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo's remark that the former Kentucky Wildcat had "mental issues" and was immature, following what appeared to be an intentional shot to Mayo's groin in Sacramento's Monday night loss to Dallas.

"In slow motion, it looks like I did it on purpose," Cousins said. "But you look in real speed, you see what happened. Of course it's gonna get thrown out there that I did it on purpose."

Cousins said he swung backward to knock Mayo's hand away.

Perhaps Mayo never heard Cousins' explanation, but that didn't stop Mayo from saying Cousins is a "garbage player" when he resorts to such tactics.

"I heard," Cousins said. "This coming from a guy that doesn't have a great image himself. So what does his really mean? I'm fine with it."

Whether or not the hit was intentional, this incident isn't going to mean anything for Mayo in the future. He got hit, thought it was on purpose and vented to the press regarding his feelings about the man who hit him.

Cousins' response, on the other hand, is a different story. Instead of just explaining his take on what happened and leaving it at that, he felt the need to take a shot at Mayo instead of just turning the other cheek and moving on from the incident. It was as if he wanted to say to Mayo, "You disrespect me, I disrespect you right back."

The sad truth is that this type of volatile attitude has been reflective of Cousins' entire career. Ever since being drafted fifth overall out of Kentucky in 2010, he has become better known for making the headlines with his mouth rather than with his play.

Early last season, he was sent home by then-coach Paul Westphal for behavioral reasons. Shortly after that incident, he was removed from the team plane for an altercation with a teammate.

Cousins' attitude issues reached a low point this season. He was suspended for two games after confronting San Antonio Spurs broadcaster Sean Elliott, who had called Cousins out for trash-talking Tim Duncan. Of course, Cousins called Elliott immature for his remarks instead of just saying he lost his temper in confronting him.

The saddest part of it all is that Cousins has so much talent and the potential to be a great NBA center. He has great size and career averages of 16 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, and has some fine individual performances on his resume.

In a game against the Phoenix Suns last season, Cousins scored an astounding 41 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. In another against the Dallas Mavericks, he had 25 points and 18 rebounds to go with six steals. Sure, Sacramento may have lost both of those games, but Cousins still showed that he did indeed have the talent to be one of the NBA's top centers.

And yet, we always seem to find ourselves talking about his personality instead of his skills.

The fact of the matter is that anything Cousins further says regarding his incident with Mayo or any future altercation is going to be completely scrutinized. He already has a reputation as a hothead, and that will not help him down the road.

He cannot be in the press for the wrong reasons under any circumstances. If he must make the headlines, it must be for his skills on the court, lest he want to waste all of his talent by remaining a head case.

Cousins simply needs to shut up, play the game and forget all about the incident with Mayo. He had his say, and it's time to move on and continue playing like a dominant center.

Otherwise, he will forever be branded as immature, and his work on the court will forever be overshadowed.