DeMarcus Cousins makes NBA history in New Orleans with epic 40-20-10 performance

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

DeMarcus Cousins is hosting a live comedy show this weekend in New Orleans, but as is often the case following home wins this season, he was delivering fresh, new material himself after Monday’s epic double-overtime performance vs. Chicago. Cousins’ postgame interviews often feature humorous, self-deprecating digs, or general bemusement about a given situation. So just minutes after becoming the first NBA player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972 to notch 40-plus points, 20-plus rebounds and 10-plus assists in a game, Cousins half-joked that he felt more relieved than anything.

“Thank God!” he said, laughing while sitting in front of his locker. “This game was so long, and for no reason. Man, I’m just glad it’s over. I think (the Bulls) feel the same way, too.”

Cousins had more than earned a comfortable seat and the chance to relax and joke about Monday’s game, a 132-128 marathon victory for New Orleans (25-21). His triple-double consisted of 44 points, 24 rebounds and 10 assists, but those were only part of his monstrous night – he drained five three-pointers, had four steals, went 13/14 from the foul line and logged a career-high 52 minutes. Asked what was the most impressive number from that gaudy stat line, Cousins didn’t skip a beat, smiling and immediately responding, “the minutes.” He then joked that an unwanted postgame conversation with a pot-stirring Pelicans staff member nearly resulted in fisticuffs.

“My strength coach had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to lift after this game,” Cousins said of Jason Sumerlin, laughing. “I almost lost it. If I had some energy, we would’ve fought.”

Initially it was believed that Cousins’ 40-20-10 was the NBA’s first since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968, but after further review of record-keeping and old box scores, it was determined that Abdul-Jabbar had more recently accomplished the rarified stat line in ’72. That was 46 years ago and not long after he’d changed his legal name from Lew Alcindor. Asked about joining an exclusive club with the likes of Chamberlain, Cousins responded, “It’s cool to be in company with a guy like Wilt. He was a guy who put up video-game numbers his entire career. Just to have a little game like his, it’s pretty cool.”

The eight-year veteran’s feeling of relief after the final buzzer came partly from knowing that his stats wouldn’t have enjoyable if New Orleans hadn’t overcome a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit and gone on to beat the Bulls. As he put it not-so-delicately at his locker, “I’m just glad we won. It wouldn’t have really meant (crap) if I didn’t get a win.”

During a postgame TV interview with Fox Sports New Orleans sideline reporter Jen Hale, Cousins briefly had to lean over to gather himself, as fatigue set in from a 52-minute workload. It had been the most productive and lengthiest night of his career. As Hale noted the numerical comparison to Chamberlain, Cousins shook his head and shrugged, as he looked forward to getting some needed relief for his muscles and joints.

“That’s some cool company to be with,” he said, smiling, “but the only thing on my mind right now is the ice tub.”