DeMarcus Cousins was named to his first All-Star team this season, but it took the intervention of the commissioner (and a season-ending injury to Kobe Bryant) to ultimately make it happen.
Cousins wasn’t voted in as a starter by the fans, and he wasn’t named as one of the reserves by the head coaches in the Western Conference. But his body of work impressed Adam Silver enough for Cousins to get the nod — even though the player himself says the honor isn’t something that he ever expected.
“Honestly, I really didn’t expect myself to make it,” Cousins said. “I mean, the West was so tough this year and there are so many talented guys in the West. But the crazy thing is, me and Dame were texting after the results came out and I was telling him, ‘Man, you know you’re going to make this team, like, it’s nothing.’ It’s just kind of crazy how things worked out.”
It is the first All-Star appearance for Cousins, who ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring (23.8 points per game) and third in rebounding (12.3 rebounds per game).
As the league noted in a release, over the last 20 years, only five players — David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Kevin Love — have averaged at least 23 points and 12 rebounds in a season.
Cousins has the statistical qualifications, but some chalk up his play to simply being the one to put up big numbers on a dreadful Sacramento Kings team.
Then there are the attitude problems, which have largely plagued Cousins throughout his career. The coaches didn’t seem eager to reward that behavior with an All-Star spot, especially when the West is so deep that an alternative choice could be easily justified.
But Cousins is as deserving as many others, so the commissioner indeed made a solid decision — even though Damian Lillard may believe otherwise.