By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — I know, I know. DeMarcus Cousins is on the Sacremento Kings, not the Boston Celtics. He may never don Celtics green. But he’s long been a popular name in Celtics trade rumors and has long earned the respect of Isaiah Thomas. So despite Deadspin’s disapproval of Bill Simmons theorizing what would happen if Cousins ended up in Boston, it’s not completely out of line to wonder how it would go if it happened.
And in light of Cousins’ recent squabbles with the local media in San Francisco, it’s fair to wonder how he’d handle the treatment he’d get here in Boston.
Sacremento is the 20th-largest TV media market in the United States, according to the 2015-16 Nielsen rankings. As a media market, it’s smaller than Orlando and slightly larger than St. Louis. Boston, meanwhile, is the eighth-largest market and reaches over 50 percent more households (2.4 million) than Sacramento (1.3 million). And Boston has long earned a reputation for being tough, cynical, and at times harsh – even with the dynastic Celtics franchise.
Cousins has made headlines in recent weeks for his behavior both off the court and in the locker room with the media. He took exception to a recent column by the Sacramento Bee’s Andy Furillo about an incident at a bar involving Cousins and teammate Matt Barnes.
His issue wasn’t even with the references to his own actions, though – he was mad because Furillo referenced a prior incident involving Cousins and his brother Jaleel. Furillo’s reference to the incident with Jaleel was opinion-free and merely mentioned facts that were relevant to any story involving Cousins and bar incidents.
Nevertheless, that led to Cousins’ outburst against Furillo that you can see at the beginning of this video:
The rest of the clip shows a few other incidents where Cousins behaved with the media like what could be described as a petulant bully. He also refused to answer questions until someone affiliated with CowbellKingdom.com, which is essentially ESPN Sacramento, left the media scrum. A column by Sac Bee executive editor and senior vice president Joyce Terhaar went so far to say that his behavior is “aimed at controlling and censoring the media.”
The sports media in Boston can be overwhelming for athletes at times, but it’s also well beyond players’ control. If Cousins truly wants to “control” or “censor” the media that covers him, he would have a bad time doing that here – especially if it’s concerning a column about things that he (and his brother) actually did, as the Sac Bee column covered. But even Simmons thinks Cousins would be capable of slugging Dan Shaughnessy in the face – Cousins does just that in the writer’s fictional story for The Ringer about “how it went wrong” when Cousins “played” for the Celtics.
Cousins’ profane confrontation with Furillo earned him a $50,000 fine from the Kings and also released this statement apologizing for it – just not to Furillo or the Sac Bee.
There’s no doubt that Cousins is a tremendously talented player on the court and capable of dominating games when he is fully engaged. But he’s also been a magnet for controversy as he’s struggled to control his emotions both on and off the court. This has led to technical fouls, ejections, fines, media outbursts, and other distractions. The final minute of his 55-point game, in which he scored a clutch basket, spit out his mouthguard (perhaps accidentally), got ejected, had the ejection immediately rescinded, and ranted about the whole calamity with the sideline reporter after the game, was basically Cousins in a nutshell.
Cousins is certainly a big-time talent and compelling personality who would crop dust Boston’s sprawling media landscape with endless material. That would not change if he came to Boston. But what would change for the big man is the encounters he would have with the media, which would undoubtedly become even more challenging for him to endure than it has been in Sacramento.
The Celtics absolutely need a game-changing talent to really give their roster a chance at contending for a championship. Danny Ainge himself said the team needs a “transcendent” player. Cousins could be that guy on the court, but would the Boston market be the best environment for him to succeed?
There’s a definite need for a player like Cousins in Boston, but considering how intense it can get in Boston, his recent dealings with the media have to be a legitimate concern.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.