There’s only one NBA player who could draw a $50,000 fine, issue an apology/non-apology, score 55 points and grab 13 rebounds, get ejected for spitting out his mouthguard, sprint to the locker room, mysteriously get un-ejected, make a game-winning defensive play and then rip into both the officials and his opponent during a must-see postgame interview ... all in the course of a single day.
That man is DeMarcus Cousins.
Hours after he was fined by the Kings for a profane exchange with a Sacramento Bee columnist, the two-time All-Star center carried the Kings to a 126–121 come-from-behind home win over the Blazers on Tuesday. Things got especially crazy in the closing minutes, though, when Cousins converted an and-one basket and walked toward Portland’s bench to let them know about it. While jawing, Cousins’s mouth guard left his mouth, leading to his second technical foul of the night and an automatic ejection. Cousins then tugged his jersey out of his shorts and ran off the court in disbelief as the officials gathered to weigh the decision.
After a brief discussion, the second technical foul was rescinded because the referees determined Cousins did not intentionally throw his mouthguard into the stands. That reversal allowed Cousins to remain in the game and shoot his free throw. Cousins returned to the court shaking his head, hit the free throw and then made a key block on Damian Lillard in the game’s closing minutes.
During a walk-off interview with local affiliate CSN California, Cousins unloaded on the officials, calling his technical foul “ridiculous” five times.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It’s obvious what's being done out here. It’s a nightly basis. I hope the world can see now what's really going on out here. It’s getting ridiculous. It’s really ridiculous. … Yes, [losing the mouthguard was accidental], man. Yes. This is ridiculous, man. Ridiculous.”
Cousins, who has had an ongoing back-and-forth with Meyers Leonard in recent years, went on to fire back at Portland’s physical treatment of him.
“That was light, man,” Cousins said. “I know what their game scheme is every night. They’re hyping up their big man over there. He thinks he’s a stopper. It’s not happening. I brought him back to reality.”
At that point, Cousins’s audio cut out.
Leonard, for his part, confirmed that he was the target of Cousins’ talk, adding that it was “very vulgar [and] downright disrespectful.”
“He deserved to be out of the game for what he did,” Leonard said, in video captured by CSNNW.com. “He’s very skilled player. Had a very good game. His antics are over the top, he’s disrespectful, out of line. The list of words could go on. I can’t respect someone like that. I saw some comment from him that, ‘The world needs to see that this is ridiculous.’ No it’s not ridiculous. He did it to himself, and that’s the truth.”
By scoring 55 points, just one shy of his career-high of 56, Cousins became just the third active NBA player to reach the 55-plus point mark on multiple occasions. LeBron James has done it three times and Kyrie Irving has done it twice. Cousins’s 55 points also stands as the second-most in a game this season, trailing Golden State’s Klay Thompson, who erupted for 60 points. John Wall, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis have also topped 50 points this season.
Earlier in the day, Cousins issued a brief statement about his angry exchange with Bee columnist Andy Furillo, apologizing to his teammates, fans and the Kings organization, but not to the local paper or its writer. Furillo drew Cousins’s ire by mentioning Cousins’s brother’s off-season arrest in a recent column about Cousins’s involvement in a late-night incident in New York City.
“There is a time, place and manner to say everything, and I chose the wrong ones,” Cousins’s statement read. “Like most people, I am fiercely protective of my friends and family, and I let my emotions get the best of me in this situation. I understand my actions were inexcusable and I commit to upholding the professional standards of the Kings and the NBA. I apologize to my teammates, fans and the Kings organization for my behavior and the ensuing distraction and look forward to moving on and focusing on basketball.”
Sacramento improved to 11–17, moving just a game behind Portland for the West’s eighth seed.