Last week I wrote that we shouldn't praise DeMarcus Cousins for not throwing a punch. I didn't think it was that crazy of an idea, but it sparked a firestorm. Somewhere along the way, a lot of people got the impression I don't like DeMarcus Cousins, and am looking for any opportunity to tear him down. I'm fine with people disagreeing with me, but the idea that people might think I dislike Boogie upset me. I love Cousins. And there a plenty of reason to praise him. I just didn't think a lack of assault was one of them. But let me share some reasons why I do love Boogie.
DeMarcus Cousins just played an incredible FIBA World Cup. He contributed across the board in limited minutes. He came in, played hard, and played well. Look around the interwebs today and you'll find multiple articles praising his play in the tournament. And it's all deserved. The questions we heard before the tournament were about how Cousins could fit in with the team. Could he focus on team defense? Could he defer to the other scoring options? The answer was a resounding yes.
Cousins has overcome questions every step of his NBA career. Could he stay in shape once he hit the NBA? He's currently in the best shape I've ever seen him. Can he control his temper? Despite my column last week, yes, he's made huge strides. His temper doesn't hold him back like it once did. Is he worth a max contract? Hell yes. The Kings look brilliant for locking up DeMarcus and building around him. How far you can go when building around Cousins remains to be seen, and plenty will still question whether you should build around him, but nobody questions his value as a max contract anymore.
And what about Team USA? Cousins was rumored to be on the verge of being cut in favor of Mason Plumlee. Well, Cousins made the team, played exceptionally on both ends of the floor, and earned himself a long-term future with Team USA. Cousins will be considered a lock for the Olympic roster in 2016.
Cousins isn't perfect. His flaws are, like all things Boogie, in your face. But make no mistake, the progress is there. He hustles back on defense more often. He blows up at refs less often. We don't need to focus on punches that haven't been thrown. We can focus on the progress that's all around Boogie.
And in a month that has been full of terrible sports news, it's important to recognize that Cousins has never been in the news for a legal issue. This week has taught us that there could always be issues that haven't come to light, but Boogie has been a good citizen to Sacramento. He loves kids. He's the 6'10" Santa taking kids Christmas shopping.
And he's funny. One of the highlights of the FIBA tournament was Cousins' response to a snarky report asking if Cousins knew where Slovenia is. "Do you know where Alabama is?" He's a bit of an asshole, but he's OUR asshole. And I love it.