DeMarcus Cousins has received plenty of criticism since he entered the league in 2010. Much of the criticism stemmed from attitude issues, real or perceived. But now, as Boogie makes his first All-Star appearance as the dominant center of the terrible Sacramento Kings, Cousins is being faced with a new type of criticism. Cousins is facing the burden of being a star, and the burden of being a leader.
Fair or unfair, DeMarcus will now absorb blame for the Kings' shortcomings, despite those shortcomings being clearly unrelated to Cousins' play. Cousins' play will be nitpicked. Take, for example, a convenient Vine of a completely blown defensive assignment:
On the Kings' broadcast, Grant Napear exclaimed it was the worst inbound defense he'd seen all year. He openly wondered if Cousins was confused and thought the Kings had the ball. But Wednesday morning, the Vine was simply an opportunity to rip into Cousins.
Seriously, this is why coaches don't give you All-Star votes when you're averaging 24 &12. https://t.co/wTP5QOOyzs— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) February 4, 2015
And while it may be easy to see this as another example of the media taking unfair shots at Boogie, it's not accurate. These moments stick with people. It doesn't matter that Cousins had 26 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and three steals. It doesn't matter because the Kings lost and a six-second Vine makes for easy commentary and judgement.
And I say it's not unique to Cousins because it's happened to plenty of other stars. Most recently, recall the backlash against James Harden. Harden had a Vine like this every couple of games for a stretch. Harden doesn't exert himself on defense, and is now notorious for that. Yet eventually people accept stars for their faults and their strengths. And it doesn't matter how many defensive lapses Harden has, he was a no-brainer All-Star selection. In the coming years, it will be the same with Cousins. And Cousins plays pretty solid defense most of the time.
In the meantime, the NBA collective will pick at the rough edges of Cousins' game while they adjust to just how incredible he has become. Cousins will be tasked with taking the criticism, something we know he's accustomed to. Cousins will be called out for leadership issues, real or imagined, as the Kings struggle along through no fault of Boogie's.
Fair has nothing to do with it. This is just how the NBA works. DeMarcus Cousins is a bona fide superstar, and he'll have to handle the new burdens that go along with that status.