Tuesday night’s game between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers may have acted as a season highlight for these Kings, a frustrated and frustrating team that could either be playing out the string in California’s capital, or setting itself up for relocation and regime change that could lead to a roster explosion.
Chief among those who are rumored to be on the potential outs is big man DeMarcus Cousins, a fantastic talent that has shown the acumen to both work as a go-to low-post scorer, and a foot-movin’ defensive stopper. Both of those attributes come and go, though, as Cousins is often found out of step defensively or out of position offensively as he tosses up another shot that has a 45 percent chance to go in.
Cousins kicked a little tail on Tuesday, playing fantastic defense and contributing 17 points and 11 rebounds in just under 28 foul-plagued minutes in Sacto’s win over the Clippers. It was a thrilling victory, with the Kings coming back from a late seven-point deficit to pull away for a comfortable win in front of a packed home audience, and Cousins chose to punctuate the win with … aw, come on, DeMarcus:
That’s DMC, in a year that saw him (stupidly, we still say) suspended for barking at San Antonio Spurs color commentator Sean Elliott after a game, giving a shot to Kings broadcaster and Sacramento-area radio host Grant Napear. Though Napear (truly) calls a great game, we’ve not always been Grant’s biggest fans, but it appears as if the broadcaster’s biggest crime was discussing on that radio show what Cousins has been throughout his short NBA career – a giant lout.
To Napear’s credit, soon after the contest, he attempted to downplay the short back and forth tactfully, via his Twitter feed:
For those of you asking..DMC said hey Grant you'll have something good to talk about on your show tomorrow!I said thanks for listening
— Grant Napear(@GrantNapearshow) March 20, 2013
Not going to make a mountain out of a mole hill with Cousins tonight. I wasn't bothered by it. I'm just glad he listens to my show! I hope.. — Grant Napear(@GrantNapearshow) March 20, 2013
..he calls in one day.I'm sure it would be an entertaining conversation!!!
— Grant Napear(@GrantNapearshow) March 20, 2013
Though we’re poking and prodding from afar, it’s easy to understand the genesis of Cousins’ combustion. This is a national league, but Sacramento is a small market and the Kings dominate the local sports talk chatter. Napear’s radio show more or less lords over that scene – the Kings may have one of the longest (and best) local team blogs in Sactown Royalty working for them, but nothing hits as quickly and as easily digestible as a pointed sports talk radio rant, and we’re sure Napear is full of them.
And Cousins, because of his churlishness, has earned those sorts of AM amplified critiques. He’s worked as a slow-developing player over his last three years, and from several angles he was rightfully taken to task for his back and forth with Mike Dunleavy earlier this month.
Impressive home victories, or even Pyrrhic victories, have been hard to come by for the Kings this season. It took an across the board effort for the Kings to down the Clips on Tuesday night. Every single member of the team’s 10-man rotation had their particular moment on the evening, and it was a stirring home win spurred on by two of the team’s most recent additions: Toney Douglas and Patrick Patterson. Cousins played fantastic ball on both ends, and he earned the right to flex after the contest.
He probably flexed the wrong way, though. Napear can be prickly but he’s not the enemy – he’s a local guy that wants the Kings to stay in town and do well. If Napear goes off on someone during a radio harangue it’s not because he’s coming into the studio with some preset bias, it’s because he’s disappointed in how things have gone with the team he cares about. Cousins, who still thinks everyone is out to get him (as opposed to understand that everyone is just reacting to the things he does), badly needs to find a way to enjoy these victories as they are, instead of statements on how much he’s overcome.
He’s not overcoming anything but Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers, in this instance, and not some set of obstacles that local media has placed in front of his line of vision. Ideally, the best ending in this scenario has Cousins and the Kings enjoying more and more of these stirring wins in front of a home crowd and against a series of respectable playoff teams.
We just hope Cousins, properly tuned, and the Kings are around Sacramento long enough to take it all in.
(Cheers to Tom Ziller at Sactown Royalty for the gatherin’ of the tweets, and for living through all of this.)
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