CHICAGO -- After
The next group to enter the conference room included Wall's teammate
"I'm going up to my room," Cousins told the reporter, "why don't you call my agent and make sure it is OK. But I have to go up to my room."
The 6-foot-10, 290-pound center went down to the hotel lobby and joked around with friends for 15 minutes before slipping out the front door. "Sorry," his agent,
But as Greig tries to put his client in the best-possible light off the court, GMs have noticed Cousins' troubling attitude on the court. One general manager said Cousins looked like he didn't even want to be on the court when he went through drills this week. Another said Cousins did better in his private interview than he anticipated, but not nearly enough to make the GM think Cousins' reputation was unwarranted.
Cousins claims he has been working endlessly to get into shape ever since Kentucky lost to West Virginia in NCAA Tournament. So far he's down to 290, but according to him, he weighed 290 during the season. The league's anthropometric measurements indicated Cousins has 16.4 percent body fat, the highest of any player in the draft other than Texas'
But despite Cousins' attitude and reputation, he's still a projected top-five pick. And his talents present an interesting quandary: If a team passes on him and he ends up being a great player, like
Both Cousins and Greig take offense to the notion that he has an attitude problem. The reputation is like a snowball, growing bigger with no provocation. When Cousins was asked Wednesday how he got such a reputation, he pointed at the questioner: "The media," he said, deflecting any responsibility.
"DeMarcus has some maturing to do, just like a lot of 19 year olds," Greig said. "But that in and of itself does not make him unique. Red flag? That is crazy. Just crazy. Let's stop talking in rhetoric and say exactly what you are concerned about with an example from his history. I'm willing to have all the books audited. And they better get down to Mobile and do their homework, They better not make a mistake, that's for sure. Because if they miss on this kid, somebody is going to lose their job."
Grieg says to ask Cousins' teammates about the kid; they'll tell you the truth. But when teammate
This is the dance of the persecuted and misunderstood, an endless cycle of frustration that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. He has a poor reputation; he is asked about the poor reputation; he gets tired of answering the same questions about his reputation; he lashes out, providing yet another example of his poor reputation.
At this point, it seems Cousins would be better off embracing his reputation as a surly instigator rather than trying to convince everyone that he is misguided. And he came close to wrapping his arms around that idea Thursday, when he asked: "Which one would you take: a nasty big man or a friendly one?"
Maybe Cousins just needs different packaging. Because the gift box with the bow that he is currently trying to wrap himself in is not fitting all that well.