DeMarcus Cousins spent Tuesday playing his annual role of “Santa Cuz” as he rewarded 100 underprivileged kids who have excelled in school in his hometown with a $200 Christmas shopping spree. The New Orleans Pelicans center also believes that NBA referees have been in a giving mood this season — assessing him with technical fouls despite Cousins’ feeling that he has been nicer and not as naughty. “I got a tech for saying, ‘Good job, referee,’ ” Cousins said after the Santa Cuz event. “I said, ‘Good job. Good call.’ And I got a tech? I swear to God on my kids. I have yet to have a moment where I just erupt or go off [this season]. I haven’t had one of those, but for some reason I’m still leading the league in techs.”
Storyline: Officiating Complaints
Cousins said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry and his teammates have told him a quieter approach is better with the referees. While Cousins says he has adopted that quieter mindset this season, it hasn’t worked and he believes referees are allowing him zero leeway because of his reputation. “I am going out of my way. I am going over and beyond,” Cousins said. “I am coming in saying, ‘We can’t do this, this and this …’ Even calls I know I should be arguing, I’m letting go. And they’re still like … it’s a one-sided thing. Everything is changing from one end. But with them, it’s like, ‘We are not letting go of the past. You are who you are. You’re getting a tech.’ So, when it comes to me getting a tech for saying, ‘Good call, referee …,’ vets and coaches tell me to butter them up. Switch it up a little bit. Do a little reverse psychology. Tell them it’s a good call. And you still getting a tech for it? They’re not trying to make it work. They’re stuck in their ways, and it is so obvious.”
Even if DeMarcus Cousins finishes the season with MVP-worthy statistics, he doesn’t believe he would get true consideration for the award. “What I am starting to understand about MVP is it is not about what it should be about,” Cousins said. “It’s a popularity contest. It’s a guy who is on TV every night. Like I said, my only objective is to win on a daily basis and take my team to the playoffs. If it happened, I’d be more than grateful. It would be amazing. I know where I stand amongst the people that look down on me.”
Around the time Pitino arrived, a group of Louisville businessmen and politicians were making a concerted effort to land an NBA team. In part, this was a play for economic development. Louisville could see how pro football and hockey helped revitalize Nashville. But it also came just as much from a desire for respect. The city burghers even had a nonbinding agreement with the Charlotte Hornets, which wanted to relocate. The plan centered around building a downtown arena that the Hornets and the Cardinals would share. Jurich and Pitino had other ideas. They had no intention of sharing an arena with an NBA team—they didn’t even want to share the city with an NBA team. Louisville was theirs. David Stern, who was then commissioner of the NBA, recalls thinking, “If Rick Pitino doesn’t want us there, why are we going there?” The Hornets went to New Orleans instead.