When Boogie Cousins was traded from Sacramento to New Orleans in 2016, the people who were the most relieved weren’t his Kings teammates, nor even the front office who had enabled Cousins bad behavior. The ones who exhaled were the reporters who were often on the bad end of a Cousins tirade when they, journalistic professionals, were just doing their job. Cousins didn’t respect reporters in the locker room. In New Orleans, no such stories leaked but Cousins ripped his Achilles in a free agent year. The Warriors took a flyer on Cousins which annoyed just about everyone because no one expected the worst, that he would hurt his quad. Now his ACL is in shreds.
When Cousins played at Kentucky for one year, his teammates were John Wall and Eric Bledsoe. The Wildcats won 35 games and were ranked either #1, #2 or #3 for eleven out of seventeen weeks. They lost to West Virginia in the second week of the tournament, a stunner since the Cats had two lottery picks and a pro prospect in Bledsoe. In the West Virginia game, Cousins wasn’t the leading rebounder (Patrick Patterson) and he wasn’t the leading scorer (John Wall). But he was a seven footer whose talent was extreme.
DeMarcus Cousins was given his nickname “Boogie” by Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq said DeMarcus boogies down the court. As most Shaq nicknames do, it stuck.
Cousins is an offensive player who is average on defense, isn’t particularly explosive, doesn’t block shots, can let his emotions usurp his game, but he makes midrange shots, is impossible to guard, can drop 30 and 15 like the sky can drop rain. It’s not a surprise that the games the Warriors won in the NBA Finals Cousins was dominant and in the games the Warriors lost Cousins was invisible. He is a huge talent. But something always happens.
Either he is drafted to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 13 years (Sacramento), or his body breaks down, or on a defending champion squad he watches his teammates dissolve into injury so his misery has company. He just can’t get a break. Reporters in Sactown call it karma. I call it Derrick Rose, the big man version.
Rose was the youngest MVP but continuing knee injuries robbed Rose of his athleticism, which is what Rose built his career on. He had a bout of depression- did he want this life anymore?- that seemed to last an eternity, and now he is a journeyman who got a nice payday off of a comeback year. That is what Cousins is looking at one more time: a comeback year.
DeMarcus Cousins has become a liner note in a melodic symphony: Big Men Who Are Snake Bit. He joins Bill Walton and Sam Bowie and Greg Oden in this sad club, though Oden and Bowie can’t compare to Cousins talent. But all of them were seven feet and had their careers derailed.
It feels like Cousins career is being derailed. Someone reminded me that Kobe Bryant ripped his Achilles, and then he cracked his knee, and then he injured his shoulder. The Achilles is like an earthquake that makes the body susceptible to all of these aftershocks. Eventually, the body wins. It always does.
As for Cousins, he’ll return. He has to. He has something to prove. He needs to force his body to obey him and I expect him to go to extremes to win the battle over California.
Of the four California teams, he’s played for three. Sacramento never made the playoffs. Cousins injured his quad in Oakland and was never the same. In Los Angeles, he tore his ACL.
Alabama native Cousins is an outlier in the Golden State. He’s watched from the sidelines more games than he has played. He has to swallow humility and patience as the career he wanted steps aside for the career that he now, unfortunately, owns.