Back in June of 2010, BearKing (miss the bastard by the way) wrote a fanpost titled A Beautiful Mind. In the fanpost he talked about seeing some Barkely swagger in DMC and made the point that, "[I]nstead of looking at DeMarcus' qualities as a crutch that will be his end, why not see it as the FIRE that keeps his motor running and motivates him to become one of the elites?"
Anywho, for whatever reason the fanpost made me think enough to write entirely too much on my views on DMC who if everyone remembers I was a little nervous about. Basically, I am too lazy to write something new on DMC but I still feel the same way I did back then so I am just going to throw down a few of the comments below, although a little altered to make a little more sense in this context (okay one part I left out because dumb).
I'm sitting here thinking about 3 of the players you mentioned: Webber, Barkeley, Coleman, and Rasheed Wallace. Although I personally think they all had more talent than Cousins when they were younger (maybe not Coleman though), nevertheless, his “Swagger” or whatever is pretty similar to those players. They all had an impact in the league and had a Hall of Fame career.
Here’s the problem though.
Webber went to Golden State in a draft day trade. He had a great rookie season but got into a huge fight with the coach and ended up traded after just one year for Tom Gugliotta and three first round picks. After that, Webber played four years for Washington. He got into the playoffs once. Along the way, he complained about food served on the charter plane, publically criticized the front office for not consulting him on roster changes, made a throat slashing gesture towards fans in a game which pissed everyone off, and went to court over some minor traffic offenses, assult on a police officer case, resisiting arrest, and possession of marijuana. He also flaked out on the team twice when they tried scheduling a comercial shoot for the team. Then he was traded to the Kings, first said he would refuse to show up, but did and everything went okay. He was 25 when he came to the Kings.
As a Kings fan, I loved Webber. But the fans of the team that drafted him? I have a feeling they weren’t a fan of his attitude when he was younger. Same goes for the Wizard fans.
As for Rasheed, he was drafted by the Wizards but traded to the Blazers for Rod Strickland after just one year. Sheed played over 7 years in Portland. The guy made it to the Western Conference finals and had some really successful seasons there but he kept getting into fights with the officials and had a few legal problems off the court. Sheed was able to break the record (again and again) for most technical fouls in a season and was eventually suspended for 6 or 7 games for threaning a ref after a game. People in Portland got tired of his act and he was later traded away to Atlanta and then Detriot. Since then he has played in Boston.
Detriot obviously loved him and he helped bring them to two Finals appearances and they even won it. I just have to wonder how much the Blazers fans look fondly back at the Sheed years. Was it all worth it? I know a few who don’t look back at it too fondly.
Then there is the brightest example in Charles Barkeley. Never won a ring but he played for Phili for a number of years at an MVP level before demanding a trade after (a) the team failed to win much and (b) some controversy in Phili over Barkeley spitting on a little girl in the crowd (was trying to spit at someone else). He went on the Phoenix, have an MVP season there and go to the finals and then had a good run in Houston. I am pretty sure Phili fans look back at his years fondly but there were some bumps along the way.
Then there is Derrick Coleman, the most depressing example. No real need to go into here but, needless to say, it didn’t really work out in Phili.
Basically I like these players as comparisons to Cousins. They had their “Swagger” and were very talented. For the most part they had successful careers but they also burned a lot of bridges when they were younger. Cousins, like these high profile bigs before him, is under a media microscope and everything he does and everything that happens around him, he will be judged (regardless of whether it’s fair or not). I hope he can handle it, but hey he’s a kid and it’s not easy. I just hope he doesn’t end up burning bridges early on in his career like Sheed, Coleman, or Webber. I would hate to have to look back 15 years from now thinking “Hey Cousins had a pretty nice career. Too bad the Kings had to move him out of Sacramento after only 5 and a half years. He turned into a really solid veteran.”
Someone also said something a day or two ago (sorry I forget who) about how with Cousins, you can’t try and force him to be someone he is not. You have to accept him for who he is. I think that statement is 100% true although maybe I think about it in a different way than the person who said it.
In my opinion, Webber, Barkely, and Rasheed all had a similar attitude to Cousins when they came in the league. They were not bad people and they weren’t lazy. They were competitive and weren’t followers. They were opinionated, passionate, and spoke their minds (In my opinion they were 3 of the most interesting players ever. I love talking about them). They wanted to be respected and didn’t like it when they didn’t get any. This attitude I think is a part of what made them such huge pains in the butt when they were young but when they got older and a little wiser? For the most part they became great lockerroom guys, leaders, and were respected as smart players.
I think their “attitude” or “swagger” played a huge role in how their careers turned out, for the most part for the better but at the same time it did limit them in some ways. With Sheed, he never got away from the stigma of being a hot head and was very off and on. Webber never quite became the best power forward of his era even though he had the skills (although to be fair, having your knee pop out in ways it shouldn’t doesn’t really help ones cause). Barkeley never quite got the championship and had a hard time staying in shape but at the same time it is kind of hard to complain about his career. They were great but they also had bumpy patches that did affect the franchises they played for, which even lead to trades or fans being pretty pissed off.
Like I said above, throughout their careers, they still were the type of players who (like Cousins) you couldn’t force to be like other star players. Barkeley still told people “I am not a role model.” But people still tried to do it. It was inevitable.
Here’s my point. Cousins is likely going to have his “swagger” for his whole career. Right now, given he is a kid, like most kids with “swagger”, he seems a little immature and it might cause some problems in the first few years of his career. Hopefully he can get through the growing pains without burning bridges with the organization or the fans because there will be growing pains. Just like with Webber, Sheed, and Barkeley, the casual fans, the media, or even the Kings organization will try to force Cousins to be someone he is not. It is inevitable. It happens all the time. Fans will get pissed about his effort some day or about his attitude, the media will jump on him if anything off the court happens, and the Kings will have their own lockeroom spatz and also try and contain any public problems. People will try to force Cousins to be something he is not. Cousins is not a follower. He is not the guy who just goes along with the plan. He wants a purpose. He wants a voice. A lot of people in the media, society, and within the NBA do not like it when young players are not followers or share their own opinions or thoughts. This will not always go well.
I am not trying to throw the guy under the bus here but things will happen, good and bad. Personally I think it is more fair to view him as the player he is than the view him as the guy I want him to be. He is who he is. I am not writing this to say “I told you so” whenever anything happens. That is not the point. My point is that if something does happen people don’t overract. I don’t want to see people rushing to defend him just for the sake of defending him (like Tyreke getting handcuffed) and I don’t want to see people rushing to throw him out out of town (like what happened with Kevin Martin and the fans booing him at Arco). If Cousins’ youth shows, people will understand this was part fo the package. Cousins is who we thought he was.