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Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has a bad reputation, earned largely through several less-than-ideal relationships with coaches, some suspensions for on-court activity, and a fair amount of incomplete information. Cousins thinks he gets a bad rap, and that he deserves fairer treatment from media, fans, and his employers. He's not entirely wrong, in the sense that expecting anyone to change with no institutional support is a recipe for continued problems.
The problem for Cousins is that he keeps making himself look terrible in public. On Thursday night, with just 41 seconds remaining in overtime of the Kings' home game against the Dallas Mavericks, Cousins committed a flagrant 2 foul by swinging a forearm to the throat of Dallas' Vince Carter after a scrum for a loose ball. The foul was originally called a flagrant 1 and was Cousins' sixth of the night regardless, but an official courtside review upgraded the penalty to a flagrant 2, mandating an automatic ejection. At the time, the Kings were down 113-109; they lost the game 117-112.
There are ways to explain Cousins's actions. The fight for the loose ball represented a big play in a close game, and it figures that he was frustrated at failing to haul in the possession. On top of that, he also immediately tried to catch Carter as he fell to the floor, which suggests that he felt remorse and knew he'd done something wrong. Plus, the difference between a flagrant 1 and flagrant 2 is vague enough — the former penalizes "contact committed against a player [...] interpreted to be unnecessary," while the latter punishes "contact committed against a player [...] interpreted to be
unnecessary and excessive," according to the NBA's rulebook — that's it's possible to say the change in level was unnecessary.
Of course, none of those points changes the fact that Cousins swung his arm at Carter when the ball was nowhere near both of them. I'm a Cousins fan and think his reputation outstrips the severity of his actions, but he also finds himself in these situations more often than all but a few other players in the league. He's a stunning talent and seems to mean well. Yet he's also reckless and lets his emotions get the better of him.
Cousins finished the game with 29 points on 9 for 14 shooting, nine rebounds, four assists in nearly 39 minutes of playing time, proving once again that he's worth a certain degree of patience simply because he's so darn good. And, yes, Cousins needs some amount of trust from the Kings to improve in these areas. But his actions make it less likely that he'll get it, whether that's fair or not.
Original video via @BeyondTheBuzzer.
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