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Can DeMarcus Cousins Get a Fair Shake in Today's NBA?

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 30: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings waits during a free-throw against the Boston Celtics during the game on January 30, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterJanuary 9, 2017

The problem with DeMarcus Cousins is that he is judged in terms of what will or will not help a team. That makes sense and it's forgivable, but it's also not the best means to understanding someone with (I think we can all admit) emotional problems. 

One problem with sports punditry is that writers often reduce the difficulties players have to either "getting it" or "not getting it," as opposed to asking whether they're getting the proper help. Royce White, regardless of how one feels about his self presentation, has brought some of these issues to the fore. 

The focus is on the player and how he needs to magically understand "maturity," as though it will all come in a "Eureka!" moment. It's a bit insulting to the players in question.

An affliction that a person has had since childhood won't suddenly disappear because he or she grasps, "Decorum is good," on a sunny day.  

With that in mind, I often look at the Cousins situation with dismay and an urge to correct people on judging the man. Instant judgment rules the day in a social media age, but it's hard to chalk up repeated incidents like this to mere "immaturity."

Every "incident" demands a reaction, more fodder for the news cycle. It mostly results in somber pronouncements regarding what Cousins must do to succeed at the professional level or whether the Cousins experiment is working in Sacramento.

I'm certainly guilty of the latter, especially when the incidents veer into causing harm to others. 

But if someone's flawed enough to threaten his own career with such outbursts, one has to wonder whether it's wrong to perceive this as a mere basketball concern.

Yes, NBA followers are interested in Cousins because he has basketball talent. But now that he's in our context, it'd be more humane to wonder after his well-being. 

The focus shouldn't just be on Cousins; it should also be on what the Sacramento Kings are doing to augment his wellness.

Obviously, Cousins is ultimately responsible for what happens in his career. But if we're discussing how his wellness influences his employer, we should perhaps also discuss how his employer influences his wellness. 

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