As his season debut with the Golden State Warriors looms, former All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins said in a recent interview his new team probably isn't loved by everyone. To Cousins, it seems, no team is more disliked than the Warriors.
Cousins was recently interviewed by ESPN's Rachel Nichols and says he has not focused on the reaction from fans since he decided to sign with the Warriors last summer in free agency.
"I don't really pay attention to storylines," Cousins told ESPN. "I mean, they're gonna say what they have to say. They're gonna add their opinions. We're the most hated team in sports."
Cousins has not played since late January of 2018 after being sidelined by an Achilles injury while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans. He was named an All-Star last season, but did not play in the game due to injury, and chose to sign with the Warriors last summer. He is set to debut tomorrow night against the LA Clippers (10:30 ET, ESPN) at Staples Center.
When Nichols countered Cousins' point by saying perhaps the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees are among the most hated teams, Cousins laughed and said: "Well, put us up there. I would say the Warriors are for sure. You know they hate Kevin [Durant]. They hate me. I think the only guy they really like is Stephen [Curry]. Actually, they may hate him, as well. They hate Draymond Green. But I mean, it is what it is. I can't worry about that."
Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Thursday that Cousins tried to move his return from injury up a few weeks ago. Per Haynes, Cousins wanted to speed up his timeline to return, but the Warriors wanted to implement a 10-minute playing restriction. Rather than deal with those constraints, Cousins decided to continue his rehab process in order to get his minutes increased upon returning.
Cousins told Yahoo Sports he opted not to come back in last night's game against the Pelicans to avoid a media circus-type atmosphere.
“No, I wasn’t going to return against them,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports before the Warriors’ victory. “I didn’t because I didn’t’ want to give [the media] a storyline. Straight up. You can ask [general manager] Bob [Myers] that. I didn’t want to give y’all a storyline. That’s why [my return] is Friday.”
Cousins has made it clear on other occasions he's not too concerned with fan reaction to his joining Golden State. Days after signing with the Warriors last summer, a teaser for a Showtime documentary about Cousins' rehab road hit social media. In it, he addressed his return from injury and free agency choice while also not mincing words about his move to California.
* Blogtable: Expectations for Cousins' return?
"I knew how it would be perceived by some ... I don’t give a [expletive],” Cousins said in the video, released on Twitter last July.
"There's some [expletives] out there that's ripping their hair out, and I love it. It's just another test for me to overcome. ... I'm a fighter, I never give up and I'm taking this challenge head on."
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said last week that Cousins will start immediately when he makes his long-awaited Warriors debut.
Golden State's coaching staff has spent the past couple of weeks more intensely planning for Cousins' return and how he will be incorporated into different rotations throughout games, while also holding regular discussions with Cousins about the plan.
Before suffering his injury last season, Cousins averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 48 games.
The 28-year-old Cousins doesn't expect to dominate from Day 1, especially playing in a lineup that will feature four other All-Stars -- Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Kerr said he hasn't thought about the star-studded lineup yet, knowing there's still half the season to go for Cousins to get comfortable and acclimated.
In the interview with ESPN, Cousins said Atlanta Hawks legend and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins was someone he leaned on during his rehab process. Wilkins tore his right Achilles in 1992, but came back in 1992-93 to average 29.9 ppg, which ranked No. 2 in the NBA that season.
"He just basically tells me to attack it," Cousins said of Wilkins' advice. "Once you realize you are healed, like, don't think about it. Just go forward.
"One thing that Dominique also spoke on is -- they don't know your heart, and they don't know your drive. So, you know, the people that do know me, they know I can be very stubborn. I don't like to be proved wrong."
Cousins told Yahoo Sports that he's keeping the expectations he has for himself in his return realistic.
“Man, I’m coming out and I want to enjoy the game of basketball,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “I miss the hell out of it. I’m going to come out and play with joy. I’m going to be happy to be on the floor just playing the game. I’m going to help this team in whatever way I can. I’m going to be a physical force on the boards. I’m going to do what I do. I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.
“As far as trying to come in and be a savior or anything like that, that’s not where my mindset is. It’s about coming in and helping this team win more games and I’m going to do my part.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.