Indians know better than most the true meaning of an extended family. Most of us grow up knowing our aunts and uncles almost as well as we know our parents and our cousins like we know our brothers and sisters. We enjoy them and we suffer them. We can’t handle too much of them and on the big family weddings, we meet cousins that we didn’t even know existed. We come across two types of cousins: the ones we love and the ones we cannot stand. But regardless of how they are, they’re family, and so we survive them.
In the single persona of Sacramento Kings Center DeMarcus Cousins, we find all elements of the extended family: the good, the bad, the brilliant, the frustrating, the entertaining, and the agonising. In one of the most severe cases of split personalities in the NBA, there are two DeMarcus Cousins: the Cousins that infuriates and the Cousins that amazes. The Cousins that receives suspensions and the Cousins that posts a triple double. On various nights, you get them all rolled in together in one, like a gathering of all your various cousins at a loud Punjabi wedding.
The First Cousins is the one that was embroiled in a college recruiting controversy. He was the one who arrived in the NBA with an ‘immature’ tag next to his name and despite his unquestionable talent, fell to number five in the draft into the hands of the Sacramento Kings. In his rookie season, he came to blows with teammate Donte Greene for not passing him the ball in a close game. It’s the Cousins who was blamed for being the reason behind the firing of Kings Coach Paul Westphal, with whom he clashed on numerous occasions. It’s the Cousins who has already been suspended three times in this early season, including being suspended by his own team for the cryptic reasoning of his ‘unprofessional behaviour and conduct detrimental to the team.’
He is the Cousins who has consistently been in the middle of trade rumours and has his team and fanbase constantly wondering if his talent is worth his troubles. At just the age of 22, he has been handed a career-full of negative stereotypes, from ‘lazy’ to ‘short-tempered’, from ‘bad-teammate’ to ‘coach-killer’.
And then there’s the Second Cousins. This is the Cousins who is a rare catch in today’s basketball’s world, a 6 foot 11 strong man in the post who has the potential to be a throwback to the dying population of 20 point-10 rebound players. It’s the Cousins with the potential of becoming the best offensive big man in the NBA. It’s the Cousins that reached the Elite Eight in College with Kentucky and the Cousins who averaged 14.1 ppg and 8.6 rpg to be named to the All Rookie First Team in his first year in the NBA, before instantly bumping those numbers to 18.1 and 11 in his second season.
It’s the 22-year-old beast who came alive after his last suspension to average 24.5 ppg and 15.3 rpg on an impressive 52.7 percent shooting from the floor on a four game road trip last week for the Kings, and in the process, making his awful team look a little less awful. It’s the Cousins who notched up his first career triple double and had a 30 point-20 rebound night in the same week, leading his struggling side to two crucial wins.
Few teams face a dilemma bigger than the 13-21 Sacramento Kings, who will be playing host to West powerhouse Memphis on Monday night (Tuesday morning Live on NBA.com/India). In Cousins, the Kings have a player who many feel they absolutely must trade to free themselves of his shenanigans, but also the player who others feel is the only untouchable, untradeable member of the squad, the one that they should aim to build their future around.
DeMarcus Cousins is the NBA’s ultimate high risk/high reward player, the player that the Kings have trouble living with but won’t want to live without. In our extended family metaphor, he is both the entertaining cousin and the infuriating one, the one that you want to spend time with and the one that you secretly choose to avoid!
But DeMarcus Cousins, like the good ol’ extended family, is irreplaceable. His talent and potential can still far outweigh his growing pains. At just 22, he has a long way to improve as a player and a person.
As awkward or uncomfortable as those big weddings may be, we learn to gulp in and survive them, for eventually we know that things will get better. The Kings must survive DeMarcus Cousins too, and one day, he will turn back and reward them.