Rajon Rondo shoved him. Kevin Garnett screamed in his face a number of times. The Celtics tried to push him around, intimidate him, and bully him throughout the entire game. But DeMarcus Cousins came away with one prevalent thought: he was impressed. (Sacramento Bee)
“They’re constantly talking,” said Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins. “K.G. constantly talking, (Rajon) Rondo constantly talking, and they just have each other’s back all around the floor, and that’s how you become an elite team.”
As for the shoves? (AP)
“It was all in the game and it wasn’t nothing personal or dislike,” Cousins said. “That was the Celtics, and I was standing my ground. But it was really nothing.”
We hear so much about Cousins, the asshole — and that side of Cousins wasn’t entirely absent last night. He stood over Garnett off the court, complained quite a bit to the refs on it, and had to be taken out of the game after the Rondo shove.
“Whenever DeMarcus gets involved in an altercation, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to let him rest for a minute or two and collect his thoughts,” Kings head coach Paul Westphal told the Sacramento Bee. “Just protection, that’s all.”
But Cousins showed at least a small level of maturity last night. He finished a physical, hard-fought game and didn’t act upset with Boston’s antics. He just wished his own team could compete at Boston’s level every night.
Probably even more important, Cousins didn’t back down. Kevin Garnett, God bless his psychotic soul, was at his raving lunatic best (or worst, depending on your outlook on such matters). He was screaming, cussing, flexing his muscles, hyperventilating, drooling, and causing nightmares for any children aged 15 and younger. At one point during the second half, I was almost entirely sure Garnett would need an exorcism by night’s end. But Cousins wouldn’t get rattled. He never stopped going right back at KG.
It was only one night, sure. But many players get affected by KG’s antics. Many players get caught up in KG’s battle and forget the point — that it’s only a battle, that it’s only KG’s way of testing your willpower, testing whether you can stand up to his mental warfare. Yet Cousins, though he has a reputation as a problem child and though he’s only 20 years old, not only kept his cool while playing KG but also — get this — admired Garnett for it.
Not every 20-year old is so wise beyond his years, and — while I understand I’m probably the first person ever to call Cousins wise beyond his years — in this case the cliche fits. He acknowledged Boston’s team-oriented style, and he noticed their intensity level. As a competitor, Cousins saw that his team (and, I assume, himself) could use more of what Boston exudes.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you Cousins should become your role model, just because he stood his ground against Garnett and admires the way Boston does things. Cousins still needs to prove his work ethic, and he still needs to do some growing up. But the rook’s got some thick skin, in a good way, and I’m not just talking about his extra layer of blubber.