“He needs to be more mature as a person, as a player, if he’s going to have an outstanding NBA career… Before there’s discussion about him being part of our program, he has a lot of building to do….He has a lot of growing up to do.”
-Jerry Colangelo in a conference call with the media on Saturday, following the first day of minicamp with Team USA. The Final 12 on Team USA scrimmaged the USA Select Team—of which, Cousins is a member.
There are a lot of things you can say about DeMarcus Cousins, and Ol’ Jerry said a few of them without ever having spoken with the battering ram big man outta Kentucky. Somehow through stories about Cousins in his two years as a Sacramento King, when the franchise’s very existence was/still is in question with the Maloof Dingbats as owners, Jerry Colangelo took all that second-hand information in and realized DeMarcus Cousins is immature. He’s immature because the media said so and because Carmelo Anthony said “‘He fouled the shit out of everybody.’” He’s immature because he frowns at officials when a call doesn’t go his way. He’s immature because…well, I don’t know. It might have something to do with that fact he was born in 1990!
Was Cousins immature because Colangelo spoke with him and he came off poorly by not showing the proper deference to Team USA’s history and what they’re trying to do moving forward? No, because Jerry Colangelo had never spoken to DeMarcus Cousins in his entire life at the time he said that quote. A quote, he acknowledged later to Ailene Viosin of the Sac Bee that was due—in some part at least—to “physically not feeling well and wasn’t in the best of moods.” Oh, so sounding off on a young player you’ve never spoken with because you’re feeling ill IS mature?
Tom Ziller writes it better, but Jerry Colangelo is personifying the crinkly old white man as moral arbiter the younger NBA generation hates. They hate this Godfather Caucasian figure because it’s supposed to be a mentorship role where an older person supports and defends the younger player’s he’s teaching. If there’s a problem with behavior or a supposed lack of respect, that’s discussed in private between the player in question and the older coach/executive. If he were still alive, I’m pretty sure that’s what Chuck Daly would tell you (the man coached Dennis Rodman—the antithesis of mature—to 2 titles and a DPOY Award).
When I read about the elbow DeMarcus Cousins inadvertently leveled on Andre Iguodala during Friday practices, and quotes like the one above from Carmelo Anthony, I know that DeMarcus Cousins gives a shit. He’s not on the Select Team to take it easy on the superstar Olympians, but to bust his butt getting them ready to take on the world in London next month. In short, he’s doing his job, and quite well if their annoyances are any indication (also: Melo, don’t do that).
Jerry Colangelo can learn something from the “immature” 22 year-old he threw under the bus on Saturday. He can learn how to act like a professional. Rather than attack Colangelo for the quote, Cousins went out of his way to reach out to him, and even after a phone call (the first time they’d ever spoken) he still wasn’t sure why he was labeled immature; even though Colangelo said “everything’s cool” after that phone chat.
It wasn’t so long ago USA Basketball (truthfully, a year before Colangelo took over the selection process in 2005) decided Stephon Marbury was a good choice to represent America in the 2004 Olympics in Greece. A Larry Brown helmed team led to a blow-out loss against Puerto Rico in the opening game, a series of PR headaches and a lowly bronze medal followed. Marbury is now amassing a small fortune playing basketball and marketing his kicks in China and Larry Brown is coaching SMU and probably reading Thomas Sowell un-ironically.
Although Colangelo wasn’t directly involved in the 2004 US Olympic team, he’d probably interacted with Stephon Marbury more than he has with Cousins (which is to say at all). Was Marbury more mature than Cousins? He was certainly older and I’m sure Jerry had at least spoken to him before. Colangelo wasn’t involved with that team, so it’s unfair to castigate him for selecting Marbury, but it’s not like the subsequent Dream Team’s after 1992’s progenitors were the epitome of class and substance. Oftentimes they were boorish and lazy and represented the coddled elite of NBA superstardom; they didn’t work hard and winning wasn’t as important as promoting individual brands overseas (The same can’t be said for 2008’s Redeem Team, which played hard and won a Gold).
But DeMarcus Cousins is immature, and he needs to work on being a professional if he ever wants to sniff a USA Olympic Team. Gotcha Jerry. Thanks for clearing that up for us in such a professional manner. Lawsy me for thinking Cousins deserved to hear from you directly.