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OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors star DeMarcus Cousins is never one to shy away from tough topics and recently revealed to Yahoo Sports the worst obscenity fans have ever shouted at him during an NBA game.
“Oh, I’ve been called n-----,” he told Yahoo Sports in the latest Posted Up video podcast that will be released this week. “And it’s crazy because this has happened to me on a few occasions. I reported it to the league, and, you know, I may have said whatever I said back and I was still punished for it. But obviously it became a bigger issue when it was Russ [Westbrook], and he was still fined for it. I don’t really understand it. We’re the product. We push this league, so I don’t understand. When does our safety, when does it become important?”
When asked which cities he heard racial slurs, the nine-year veteran and four-time All-Star declined to answer. However, league sources told Yahoo Sports one of the incidents occurred in Sacramento.
“I don’t really want to [name cities or teams], because I’m not really trying to put a label on an entire fan base,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “There are ignorant individuals in every city. I’ll just put it like that. … [The league] tells you to ignore it, or whatever the case may be, but how many times am I supposed to ignore that. Me coming from where I come from [Mobile, Alabama], they lucky all they got was a response.”
When contacted for a comment, the NBA released the following statement: "While it would not be appropriate for us to address any specific conversations we have with individual players, we review all situations involving alleged fan misconduct. If we confirm the misconduct, appropriate measures are taken directly with the fan in question."
In February 2017, Cousins, while a member of the Sacramento Kings, was fined $25,000 following an upset win over the Warriors at Golden 1 Center for flipping off a few Warriors fans and shouting, “F--- Golden State!”
It is unclear if racial slurs were involved in this incident, but Cousins mentioned it as an example of how players are routinely targeted and how the abusers often go unpunished.
“It’s crazy. I remember the whole incident with the whole ‘F--- Golden State’ thing,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “I remember specifically those fans talking crazy to me the entire game, and then I come out the game and it’s those same exact fans. And I knew they were Golden State fans, so I said what I said. I talked to the league. I’m like, ‘Such and such and such was said. I was getting called bitches and all this other stuff, punk boys, whatever.’ But they was like, ‘All right, but you flipped them off.’ I’m pretty sure them dudes are still enjoying games [today]. So it’s like I’m the bad guy because I react?”
The conversation on the negative aspects of player-fan interaction was ignited recently when Westbrook reacted to some degrading comments made by a Utah Jazz fan in Salt Lake City.
Westbrook was fined $25,000 for his part, and the Jazz banned the fan for life and issued the same penalty to another fan who was caught on video shouting, “Boy!” to the Oklahoma City Thunder star a year prior.
Athletes have always dealt with nasty taunts, but Cousins said the way Westbrook’s ordeal was captured on video forced the situation to be discussed and addressed.
“I think it kind of went viral with the whole Russ thing,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “I’m sure that played a part in it. He’s had multiple instances in that same city. You even got the one clip of the guy flipping Russ off. Like, when does the game get that serious for a fan? Why are you that angry? This dude is literally out there putting a ball through a hoop. How do you get that angry?
“ … You see these clips of us reacting toward fans and they just say whatever they feel like they can say at the time, but at the end of the day, bro, our hearts beat the same way yours does, we bleed the same way you bleed, our emotions are the same as yours. If you was somewhere walking down the street and somebody says something crazy to you, you’re going to react. So just because it’s a basketball event doesn’t mean those emotions go out the door or us being a human being goes out the door. It’s the same thing. And it makes it even worse because we’re at work. If a dude comes up to you at work and says something crazy, does it change it? And it’s already enough emotions in a basketball game. I wish I had the answer to [resolve this], but something needs to be done because obviously it’s a bigger issue than they want it to be put it out as.”
Cousins made it clear he’s not against fans giving the opposing teams a tough time. He and other players just believe there should always be a level of respect that doesn’t veer into inappropriate territory.
“And of course we want the fan experience to be as amazing as possible and we want them to enjoy NBA games and feel like they can interact and all that,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports, “but there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed and it gets crossed often.”
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