An enigma to most, if not all, there's perhaps no greater example of the human personality's arbitrary nature than DeMarcus Cousins. One second he's demonstrating a self awareness and indifference of somebody jaded beyond their years, and the next he's laying into an official over a perceived basketball injustice as though he didn't already understand how likely he was to experience it.
This isn't a tired attempt at understanding Boogie Cousins the person, nor is it a dissertation on the flaw in attempting to do so.
As Cousins shyly embarks on his media tour, the awkward nature of it all contradicts with it's apparent necessity. If he can play his cards right, it seems, he can earn back the public appeal that's eluded him thus far in his career. In attempting to do so he's laid bare the deep connection between his disposition and that of the city that supports him.
As much potential as we believe Cousins possesses as a player, we also believe in how connected that potential is to his frame of mind.
"If he can stay in shape."
"If he can keep his composure."
The differences between he and the more traditional franchise player are more aesthetic than they are tangible. It's hard, if not immensely fun, to imagine Boogie Cousins hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy. The same goes for imagining him as a media darling riding the wave of good-will to accolades and public approval.
We often reminisce on the "glory days" of Kings basketball. But when you think about how the glory days consisted of just one conference finals appearance, three second round exits, two first round departures (I'm cutting off the glory days at 2004) and a catastrophic knee injury, we're the first ones to point out how it wasn't entirely about the production but about the team that drove that period.
If anybody asks what was so special about that team we have a universal answer. "We were a gang of misfits. Nobody wanted C-Webb, Divac got traded for a rookie coming out of high school (cough, cough), Peja got drafted one spot after a rookie coming out of high school (coughs, chokes), Doug Christie bounced around before finding a home in Sacramento, Scot Pollard was Scot Pollard."
They played a brand of basketball that few else played and they did it in a way that nobody could replicate. Those Sacramento Kings endeared themselves to the national public in part because of how ludicrous it was that they could endear themselves to the national public.
Warts and all, DeMarcus Cousins carries that same burden. As he lumbers onto television studios and reclines behind microphones answering prepared questions two things are clear: he feels he has to do this and he doesn't particularly want to do this.
He's wasted no time pretending as if he's malleable to a changing narrative because that's not what interests him. What interests him is the ability to play and behave without a media bias attempting to understand him or paint a picture around whatever he does.
Moments of transparency and introspection are rare during a DeMarcus Cousins interview, but in one while he was on the BS Report last week he spoke of his preference for playing for a small market franchise. However, immediately after, he listed the bright lights of Madison Square Garden and Staples Center as his two favorite places to play.
I couldn't think of a more fitting series of answers. Where exactly does a celebrity fit on the national landscape if they want their production to resonate on the most transparent and publicized of levels while also being blanketed by the security and family orientation of a small market.
Isn't that what's been at the root of the rift between Cousins' and the existence of his public perception? He wants to ride the same wave that players such as Dwight Howard or Anthony Davis rode to accolades he felt he was more deserving of, while being too tentative to even dip his toes in the water.
It's this inconsistency that connects Cousins to the city that he plays for. Sacramento has vacillated between pride and resignation at our small-market label. We'll roll our eyes at our "cow-town" moniker right as we're dancing in our seats to the "Gotta Have More Cowbell" in-timeout bit during a Kings home game. We yearn for the national spotlight if only to demonstrate the individuality that disconnects us from the spotlight in the first place.
In this respect, DeMarcus Cousins perfectly encapsulates the small-market superstar. His unabashed loyalty and commitment to those who've believed in him only further root him as the player we should consider the embodiment of Sacramento on the basketball scene.
I'd choose a different lens from which to look through if I were attempting to prove his case as the player truly capable of lifting Sacramento from the depths of the NBA cellar into the forefront of title contention. But I'm not. I really don't know if he is. But I can't think of a premier NBA talent I'd find a more prideful connection in watching do just that then I would the enigma misunderstood as DeMarcus Cousins.