I was going to do the usual starting lineup post, but then I realized that six of nine things I took note of yesterday had something to do with the Kings game, and in most cases something to do with Bill Walton’s narration of the Kings game. I guess we’re talking Kings today!
Listening to Bill Walton call an NBA game is an experience like none other in professional sports. Some people, like myself, enjoy his unique insights. Others… not so much. One thing that all basketball fans have to appreciate about Walton, though, is that he never fails to speak his mind. Bill Walton calls it how he sees it, and not all commentators do that. You may not always agree with Bill, but at least there’s no bias driving his opinions, and nothing is ever held back. If Bill Walton thinks it, Bill Walton says it. Yesterday, he happened to have some thoughts on young King DeMarcus Cousins, who’s been in the spotlight lately for all of the wrong reasons. I think Walton hit the nail on the head this time, and if I’m Keith Smart I’m sticking an audio tape of his sentiments in DeMarcus’s locker.
Here’s the transcript of some of Walton’s commentary beginning around the middle of the first quarter…
The DeMarcus Cousins story right now is a story of failure on so many fronts. Failure of the new sports culture in our country, failure of DeMarcus to be physically fit, failure of the NBA to resolve it’s labor issues in time to allow him to work in the offseason with great coaching, great staff, great development, but then it’s also the failure of his own personality, and a failure to assume responsibility. When things go wrong for DeMarcus he immediately turns and points his finger at somebody else… it’s either the ref, or the coach, or the teammate that didn’t rotate properly. When you’re the leader you have to pull the team together… you have to define the terms of the conflict, you have to do what others can’t and won’t do, and then you have to lead the attack on a constant basis. He’s got a long way to go… he’s got the physical package, but we’re going to have to see how the rest of it plays out.
I couldn’t agree more with everything that Bill said right there, and I was especially impressed by the critical nature of his comments because he was doing a Kings broadcast. Not often will you hear such an honest critique of a young player with as much potential as Cousins during a team’s local telecast.
DeMarcus posted a pretty nice line of 16 points, 10 boards, and 3 blocked shots on 6-8 in Sacramento’s 104-97 loss to Orlando, but I can’t honestly say that I was impressed by his performance. In what was the most poorly-officiated game I’ve seen in a really long time, Cousins was effective by flopping like a European soccer player until Dwight Howard was on the bench due to foul trouble. Once Dwight had been removed, Cousins was able to produce against Orlando’s second-stringers, although he allowed Big Baby go off for 20 of his own. Even after Howard had been forced to take a seat and Cousins had begun rolling, he got fatigued quickly, essentially neutralizing himself. After about six minutes of very strong play he had to take a rest and Sacramento lost the early advantage they’d built.
Once again, DeMarcus showed flashes of brilliance, but in the end his shortcomings proved to be costly to his team, who went on to lose to a basically Dwight-less Magic squad. A story of failure indeed. Does he have the ability to turn this story into one of success? Absolutely. Will he accept the fact that Walton is right, take responsibility, and do what it takes to turn it around? I’d be an idiot to rule that out so early in his career, but I’m slowly losing faith.