By Ben Golliver
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is making headlines, again, for non-basketball reasons.
The Sacramento Bee reports that Cousins, who was suspended for two games earlier this season after a postgame confrontation with Spurs broadcaster Sean Elliott, claims NBA referee Gary Zielinski directed profanity at him during an exchange that led to Cousins' ejection from a victory against the Jazz on Saturday night.
Cousins, who was called for his second technical foul and ejected in the third quarter of the Kings' win over Utah, said Monday he said nothing inappropriate and it was referee Gary Zielinski who was out of line.
"The referee cursed at me," Cousins said. "He told me to go (expletive) ask the other referee (about the first technical foul). I was going to say something back, kept my cool and walked away and still end up with a technical. So I still don't understand."
Cousins said after Monday's practice he "didn't say a word" to Zielinski to warrant the technical foul.
The incident that preceded the ejection can be seen in the video above at the 1:20 mark. Cousins drew his first technical for slapping down on the ball after being whistled for a foul while defending Jazz big man Enes Kanter. Cousins lightly disputed the technical before the exchange described above took place.
Cousins was similarly miffed after his suspension for the incident with Elliott, as he thought he was addressing the matter directly while Elliott and other clearly sensed some hostility.
There's no doubt at all that Cousins' reputation precedes him in these situations. As one of the league's most prolific technical foul recipients, most physical young players and most demonstrative personalities, he's an easy target in more ways than one. The Bee further reported that Cousins felt targeted during the ejection.
And what did Cousins see when he watched the replay?
"It's DeMarcus Cousins, so let's 'T' him up," Cousins said.
The league needs take a look at this incident and Cousins' comments. Cousins is leveling some fairly serious charges at Zielinski. The league should work, as best it can, to determine the merit of his claims and then assess punishment -- to player and/or official -- as necessary. With Cousins, though, this is bigger than an individual incident. It's in no one's best interests -- not Cousins', not the Kings', not the NBA's or its officials' -- for Cousins, a 22-year-old future All-Star averaging 16.1 point, 9.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, to repeatedly make headlines over issues unrelated to his play.
Back in November 2011, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh famously met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in an attempt to clarify the league's rules and expectations for his play, after he received a number of fines for unnecessarily rough plays. A summit between Cousins and NBA commissioner David Stern, or perhaps vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson, might not be the worst idea. Cousins can say his piece, the league office can officially reinforce the policies with which he seems to take issue, and instructions can be passed on to the officials, if necessary, for handling future incidents or exchanges.
Cousins had made it clear on multiple occasions that he feels misunderstood and/or singled out for harsher treatment. A little pro-activity from the league offices on this one could save some headaches down the line. Is it possible that such a meeting winds up being a waste of time? Sure, but there's no harm in trying.
Video via YouTube user NBAScorpion