UPDATE: NBA spokesman Tim Frank tells USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick that DeMarcus Cousins won't receive a suspension from the league, but Amick reports that Cousins is not expected to play against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night anyway, and will sit out due to left leg pain.
Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins may think that his protests may prevent him from the suspension the NBA is ready to send his way on Wednesday, but he’s wrong about that. He was wrong to elbow Milwaukee Bucks wing Mike Dunleavy Jr. in a game on Sunday, he was wrong in every suspension he’s received in his three-year career (save for the weird one concerning Sean Elliott), and he’s wrong to try to get out of his latest misstep by claiming “bad timing” for what more or less looked like DMC intentionally clocking the back of Dunleavy’s head with a retaliatory elbow.
(Got my finger-pointing game on point today, friends.)
In practice on Tuesday, one in which Cousins sat out as a result of the dangerous-but-that’s-how-it-is-sometimes box out that Dunleavy gave DeMarcus before the altercation, Cousins attempted to call it all a terribly-timed misunderstanding. From Jason Jones at the Sacramento Bee (via PBT and SBN):
Cousins said the elbow wasn't "really" intentional.
"If you see the replay, it's really not as hard as he acted it out to be," Cousins said. "It really wasn't."
So if the elbow wasn't meant for Dunleavy's head, what was Cousins doing? Did he know Dunleavy was there?
"I was just trying to get around the screen," Cousins said.
If there was no intent, was it just a coincidence the elbow came right after Cousins confronted Dunleavy?
"It was really bad timing," Cousins said.
If you read Jones’ report (and you really should), you’ll notice that Kings guard Isaiah Thomas was asked directly after Cousins’ defense if he agreed with his teammate. And Thomas (literally) laughed and laughed and laughed …
There are SO many NBA plays that I think are unfairly judged as dirty because of the speed of the game, and how often typical basketball moves can turn dangerous or look dirty because of the physical nature of something as simple as setting a screen, contesting a shot, or attempting to send a big man to the line. And it truly, honestly, would be a shame if Cousins were unfairly accused of premeditation in an eventual play involving Dunleavy, especially after (as he claims in Jones’ report) DeMarcus came to terms with the altercation and was “cool about it” after Dunleavy and Cousins clashed.
Mix in reputation, co-incidence, Cousins’ claim that Dunleavy baited him with a “what you going to do about it?”-taunt and our own hope that DeMarcus Cousins finally turns his career around? I want to believe him. I write that with genuine spirit.
I’m not stupid, though. OK, I’m kind of stupid, but I do know this:
DeMarcus Cousins got angry at a borderline-dirty (if technically NBA-legal move) by Mike Dunleavy Jr. and then nailed him in the back of the head with an elbow a few plays later. It was an intentional ploy that could have done some real damage, and considering Cousins’ reputation as a guy that doesn’t seem to care for NBA decorum, he should be punished accordingly. You can’t react to a basketball move, however dodgy, with a non-basketball move.
And DeMarcus Cousins shouldn’t be believed when he tries to pass his move off as a basketball move. If another player with a spotless history on a 65-win team pulled the same move, we’d be surprised for a second before expecting the suspension to come down. Which makes the NBA’s non-suspension of Serge Ibaka all the more damning of the NBA’s decision-making policy.
The league office’s foibles are not DeMarcus’ problem. His problem is his attitude, which is a bad fit for a failed franchise. Someday, hopefully on a different team, DeMarcus Cousins will find his way. For now, though, he and his Kings are still wandering aimlessly.
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