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Ball Don't Lie

DeMarcus Cousins, how has your tutelage under Shaquille O’Neal gone? ‘I have not heard from Shaq at all’

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Shaquille O'Neal holds up an unidentified actor from the 'Grown Ups 2' premiere (Getty Images)

Earlier this summer, eventual Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal emerged from a dinner meeting with the new Sacramento Kings ownership group to detail a wish to make Kings center DeMarcus Cousins a protégé of sorts. O’Neal discussed plans to “make DeMarcus Cousins the best big man in the game,” an idea that even the underachieving Cousins would no doubt get behind.

A month later, Cousins has yet to hear from the 2000 NBA MVP. Which is a bit of a downer, because in the age of Twitter, it’s easier than ever to quickly get in touch with people in 140 characters or less. Even privately, via Twitter’s direct message setup. According to Cousins, Shaq has yet to reach out. From Jason Jones at the Sacramento Bee:

"I have not heard from Shaq at all," Cousins said. "Not a tweet, DM (direct message), nothing."

[…]

"I would be open to it," Cousins said. "But I have not heard from him."

A very large bummer. Not unlike Shaquille O’Neal at his most disappointing. And Cousins, when he fires up those 18-footers.

To be fair, this summer Shaquille O’Neal has had quite a lot of work to do while promoting his role in the film ‘Grown Ups 2.’ Even though we won’t be seeing this motion picture any time soon, we’re sure it is most definitely not a major abomination of a feature and certainly not something that will have us ruing the day that we once thought Chris Rock could ease into middle age as an actor whose credibility would be far removed from that of his other early-1990s ‘Saturday Night Live’ contemporaries that appear in the movie.

Thoughts on Adam Sandler’s love of bathroom humor aside, it is strange that DeMarcus can’t even get a public tweet or private message from O’Neal, despite Shaq’s bold proclamations, while O'Neal takes the time re-tweet all these just in the last two days:

Squawks aside, DeMarcus could use the help.

Shaq’s work in the low post has been sloughed off by some because of his size, the relative lack of standout defensive big men during his era, and his propensity for trying to dunk everything, but at his best O’Neal boasted a fantastic drop step and spin move. It’s true that Shaquille’s physical presence and leaping ability factored into his most dominant years, but you don’t average over 26 points per game 10 times between 1993-94 and 2002-03 without having superior low post skills. All while leading the league in scoring twice, and the NBA in field goal percentage five times.

And that’s done mostly while sharing the ball with standouts like Kobe Bryant and Anfernee Hardaway, while shooting a miserable percentage from the line. Shaq’s points didn’t come cheap.

Cousins connects at a disappointingly low rate around the rim, and as shot a tick below 45 percent from the field over his three-year career. It’s true that some era-appropriate influences (the preponderance of sweet shooting big men in the modern game that Cousins has modeled himself after, different zone defense laws) factor into Cousins’ struggles in comparison to a legend like O’Neal, but for all of DeMarcus’ physical gifts and potential go-to ability, he still appears quite raw while working at an age (22, soon to turn 23) that saw O’Neal average a league-leading 29.3 points on 58 percent shooting.

This is a long way of saying, “hey Shaq … DM the guy.” If I can be bothered to ask my wife via DM how her lunch went, Shaquille O’Neal can bother to DM DeMarcus Cousins about a possible low-post pow wow that could change DMC’s life. Especially after Shaq puffed out his chest to talk up how he was going to save Cousins’ career some four weeks ago.

Of course, there still are nine weeks to go between now and the start of NBA training camp. Shaq has time to get in touch and schedule a series of workouts.

Then again, Adam Sandler may want Shaq to ride along on the international press junket for ‘Grown Ups 2.’ He could someday turn the young and impressionable Nick Swardson into the best fart joke man in the game along the way.

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