By Ben Golliver
You rarely hear one NBA player speak this negatively and directly about a colleague.
NBA.com reports that Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo accused Kings center DeMarcus Cousins of having "mental issues" after an on-court incident during Dallas' 119-96 victory against Sacramento on Monday night.
Mayo aired his frustrations with Cousins after Cousins shoved Mayo and then punched him below the belt while the two were jockeying for position on a Kings possession.
“That guy has mental issues, man,” Mayo said. “He’s a talented player, but he has the opportunity to be the face of that franchise, but I don’t think he wants it.
“He’s immature, man. Big maturity problem,” Mayo continued. “Hopefully he’ll grow up out of it and become great. He definitely has the talent to.”
Cousins, for his part, reportedly said that the groin punch was "unintentional."
Given Cousins' recent history, there's little question the shot will come under review by the NBA league office and Cousins could face a fine and/or suspension for the elbow.
Controversies, both real and puffed up, tend to follow Cousins everywhere he goes. The NBA recently suspended him for two games after he argued with Spurs broadcaster Sean Elliott in a "hostile manner" after Elliott called him out for talking trash to future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan. Cousins also recently claimed that an NBA referee cursed at him during an on-court exchange.
Cousins, the No. 5 pick in the 2010 draft, has dealt with questions about his emotions and attitude since high school. A talented low-post scorer and rebounder, Cousins is averaging 17.2 points and 9.9 rebounds this season.
Cousins has had his share of minor incidents during his three seasons in Sacramento. He was benched for flashing a “choking” sign to an opponent; thrown off the team plane after a dispute with a teammate; fined by the organization for undisclosed reasons; and argued with former coach Paul Westphal, including rumors of a possible trade request. Over the summer, Cousins participated in USA Basketball’s Select training program, with chairman Jerry Colangelo telling reporters in July that Cousins “has some growing up to do” and that he “needs to mature as a person.” USA Today reported that Cousins was surprised by that characterization, calling it “messed up."
Through it all, Cousins has stuck to his story that he's an emotional player who is misunderstood and who has been unfairly targeted by the league. The Kings have seemingly tried every angle to achieve better behavior and conduct. Perhaps Mayo's direct assessment will get through to Cousins. Perhaps not.
Video via YouTube user MrBasketUSA