"Oh, I've been called n----r. And it's crazy because this has happened to me on a few occasions. I reported it to the league, and, you know, I may have said whatever I said back and I was still punished for it. But obviously it became a bigger issue when it was Russ [Westbrook], and he was still fined for it. I don't really understand it. We're the product. We push this league, so I don't understand. When does our safety, when does it become important?"
Cousins abstained from revealing the individual cities where he heard racial slurs:
"I don't really want to [name cities or teams], because I'm not really trying to put a label on an entire fan base. There are ignorant individuals in every city. I'll just put it like that. ... [The league] tells you to ignore it, or whatever the case may be, but how many times am I supposed to ignore that. Me coming from where I come from [Mobile, Alabama], they lucky all they got was a response."
Haynes reported that one of the cities was Sacramento, where Cousins began his career as a member of the Kings.
Fan treatment of NBA players during games remains a major concern for the league. Westbrook recently had a confrontation with a Utah Jazz fan who reportedly told him to "get on his knees like he’s used to."
The fan was permanently banned from Jazz games for those comments, but the NBA also fined Westbrook $25,000 for telling the fan he'd "f--k you up, you and your wife."
Given how close fans sit to the court during NBA games, the atmosphere is more intimate than it is in other sports. But that has also led to a number of incidents involving fans, and Cousins is the latest player to draw attention to the negative side of fan interactions.