The Sacramento Kings have had a number of talented players suit up for them over the years but only 10 of them have their jersey numbers hanging from the rafters at the Golden 1 Center. The 11th, No. 6, is for “The Sixth Man,” the fans.
DeMarcus Cousins sounded pretty confident that he’d be the 11th player before he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in 2017 and he still feels that way, as he told Marc J. Spears in an interview for Andscape:
You averaged 21.1 points and 10.8 rebounds in seven seasons with Sacramento after they drafted you with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. Would you want to see your No. 15 jersey retired there?
I put the time and work in. I hold many records there. I honestly think I’m the best player to ever come through Sacramento. And I stand on that, absolutely.
Statistically speaking, Cousins is absolutely right: some of the numbers he put up during his time in Sacramento won’t be touched for a long, long time, and had he not been traded or suffered career-altering injuries, he’d probably be higher on a lot of the team’s all-time leaderboards.
Where the argument gets interesting is Cousins’ record with the Kings. In the seven seasons that Cousins was in Sacramento, the Kings never finished the regular season with a winning record, nor did they make the postseason, obviously. He’s also not a Hall of Famer, though he said his career numbers warrant that, too:
Do think you got Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame numbers?
Vlade Divac is in the Hall of Fame.
I’m asking about you.
Vlade Divac is in the Hall of Fame. … Look at his [career statistics] and look at mine. We’ll leave it at that.
The good news for Cousins is that Mitch Richmond got his jersey retired despite the fact that he had a losing record in all seven of his seasons in Sacramento. Even the season he led to the Kings to the postseason (1995-96), the Kings finished the regular season with a record of 39-43.
Cousins’ method of lobbying for his jersey to be retired is an unusual one, for sure — especially when you factor in everything he’s said about the Kings since he left — but his case is as strong as anyone who’s worn the purple and black. We’ll see what happens in the not-too-distant future.