Cousins is no fan of the Los Angeles Clippers, and he recently added another chapter to the tale of his dislike.
The hatred became obvious on Nov. 23 when the Sacramento Kings traveled to Los Angeles and lost in heartbreaking fashion 103-102 after a hard-fought game. The young Cousins had his tantalizing talent on full display that night and finished with 23 points and 19 rebounds. It was the type of game that made it seem like Cousins will be a superstar in this league for the next 10 years or more.
However, after the game Cousins physically pulled away teammate Isaiah Thomas away as Thomas went to offer Chris Paul a congratulatory handshake.
If it seemed strange at the time, Cousins made his reasoning crystal clear when recently speaking to Jonathan Abrams of Grantland:
"It’s just, some players I don’t respect. Just their playing style of basketball. I don’t respect it. I feel like it’s basically cheating and I don’t respect a cheater. If that’s your tactic to winning, I don’t respect you."
Basically what we have here is Cousins—one of the up-and-coming stars in the entire NBA—calling Paul a cheater and undermining the entire way the Clippers play basketball.
Cousins was critical of the Clippers’ physical style, but one has to wonder if Los Angeles’ tendency to add some histrionics (to say the least) in its efforts to draw whistles from the referees didn’t creep into his mind as well. Paul may not have the nation “LeBroning” like King James does with his flops, but he has been known to do a little bit of acting on the floor.
Furthermore, Cousins is often beaten up during games, which has to be frustrating for someone who has so many calls go against him on the defensive end.
However, in the context of Cousins, it's just another chapter to his story that goes beyond his basketball abilities. He has had issues with coaches before, constantly yells at referees (hence the technical fouls) and his attitude has always been questioned since he was just a potential NBA prospect.
Sam Amick of the USA Today describes a disturbing scene that the home fans of Sacramento were treated to earlier this year:
At some point midway through the second half, Cousins heard something from a fan whose seat was behind the Kings bench in the lower concourse that he clearly didn't appreciate. It's unclear exactly what was said by the fan, although one account at the time on Twitter indicated that the fan yelled at him to pass the ball. According to eyewitness accounts of two people on hand that night, the 23-year-old franchise centerpiece who was given a four-year, $62 million deal in late September reacted by allegedly grabbing his crotch and shouting a gratuitous expletive that was, to put it mildly, an inappropriate sexual suggestion.
Cousins is too talented to have issues like this constantly come up. He is averaging 22.6 points and 11.6 rebounds a night and should be given serious consideration for an All-Star spot.
Yet, it is his strange back-and-forth with the Clippers that has drawn headlines and will likely continue to do so the next time he and the Kings face off with Paul and company. Here’s to hoping that it’s nothing that a good handshake can’t fix.