DeMarcus Cousins & The Sacramento Kings: “We Like Him But We Don’t Want Him”

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DeMarcus Cousins was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans. Sacramento is 24-33 and in ninth place in the Western Conference, one game behind the Denver Nuggets for the 8th and final playoff spot. The Pelicans are 23-34 and in 11 place in the West.

But Cousins is the Kings leading scorer, averaging 27.8 points and 10.6 rebounds this season. The three-time All-Star recently served a one-game suspension after accruing his 17th technical foul and will be forced to serve additional suspensions with every additional technical he incurs for the rest of the regular season.

So the question is this: will it work? Can Cousins calm down and settle down and simmer down and play basketball alongside one the NBA’s elite players, Antony Davis, the 2017 All Star Game MVP, who is also on a struggling team? The Pelicans sure hope so.

From the outside looking in, Cousins is a head case. After publicly saying that they would not trade Cousins, Vldae Divac and the Kings turned right around and traded him. On Feb. 6, Divac told ESPN, “We’re not trading DeMarcus … we hope he’s here for a long time.” Yeah, right.

Divac’s public statement, sources said, followed a face-to-face meeting days earlier in which he assured Cousins and his representatives that there would be no trade and that the sides were on track for the extension this summer.

So why was Cousins traded? Because he’s a hot head and everybody knows it. The Kings now have the chance to start over because there was growing internal concern about Cousins’ unpredictability and run-ins with referees, and these were chief among the lures that convinced Sacramento to go forward with the trade Sunday, rather than playing the process out until Thursday’s trade deadline.

So the lesson is this: what do people think and say about you? What do they say publicly, and does it match what they say privately? The Kings were willing to part with arguably one of the NBA’s best big men in order to get … Buddy Hield? It doesn’t make sense unless you understand why the Kings wanted to get as far away from Cousins as possible.

Our attitude determines our altitude.  Period. Those around us can see and sense our disposition a mile away. And because we are supposed to emulate and imitate and mimic and model Jesus Christ, let’s hope that this ironic, sarcastic and sardonic “we say we like him but we really can’t stand him” attitude can’t be pegged on and doesn’t apply to any one of us.

March Madness: ALWAYS Have a Plan “B” (Oklahoma!)

hield-buddyBuddy Hield averages 29 points a game. He single handedly carried his team on his back through their bracket en route to the Final Four in Houston. And Oklahoma was supposed to give Villanova a run, or at least a game, IF Buddy and his buddies could hit their three pointers. Not! It didn’t happen. In fact, the unthinkable happened; Oklahoma got blown out of the gym, losing 95-51. Unbelievable.

The Sooners didn’t just lose, they were creamed and crushed, slaughtered and massacred, trounced and pounced right out of the Final Four. It was their worst loss of the season and the worst margin of defeat in Final Four history. Hield, who won several national player of the year awards, finished with nine points. Nine points. He came into the game shooting 46.5 percent from 3-point range, but finished 4 for 12 from the field, including 1 of 8 from beyond the arc.

Hield, who became the Big 12’s all-time leading scorer in the game, said Villanova was ”one of the best teams I’ve ever played in college.” Hield had more to say: ”Just credit them for what they were doing. They made it tough on me throwing multiple bodies at me,” said Hield, who had six points against West Virginia, the only other time this season he was held below 10 points. ”They just played terrific tonight.”

So, for Villanova, they had a game plan. Several Wildcats get credit for their great defense against Hield, as Nova used multiple players to chase Hield all over the court. They limited his shots by not allowing much separation when he didn’t have the ball and smothered him even more when he did. ”We were just loading into him,” Mikal Bridges said. ”We just tried our best to limit his touches and load to him when he had the ball.”

So, since the Oklahoma Plan “A” did not work, what was the backup plan? What was their Plan “B?” There wasn’t one. That’s right; they had NO contingency plan. No options for unlikely exigencies or unforeseen eventualities. What if Buddy had a bad game? What if the team had a cold shooting night? What if Oklahoma couldn’t make a shot or buy a basket and Villanova couldn’t miss? You guessed it? That’s exactly what happened.

My dad taught me to “plan for the worst and hope for the best.” He taught me that everything won’t go your way. And anything can happen. Nothing is for certain. At least not in sports. And in life, life happens. So you need to plan for what might happen. And that’s why you need more margins in your life. You need margins on your term paper and margin in your bank account and margin in your commute to work and margin in your marriage. You just do.

So here’s to Villanova and North Carolina; they play in the National Championship game tonight. So each team certainly has a game, plan. Let’s just hope that if each team’s Plan “A” doesn’t work, that they have a Plan “B” in their hip pocket.

I Can’t Believe I Missed The Big Game!?

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Last night I missed the big game. I mean I missed The Game! No. 1 Kansas played No. 2 Oklahoma in one of the biggest mid-season matchups in memory. And I missed it! And to top it all off, the game went to triple – I said TRIPLE OVERTIME! What was I thinking? 

It’s difficult, by definition, for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown to exceed expectations. But Oklahoma-Kansas somehow did it Monday night. I mean it really, really did it. Did I mention that it took three — three! — overtimes to settle things! In end, which I missed because I went to bed (Slacker!), the Jayhawks held on to beat the Sooners. Final: No. 1 Kansas 109, No. 2 Oklahoma 106.

Wait! What?!

“Toughest game I’ve ever played in,” said Kansas senior Perry Ellis, who finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds and still wasn’t even close to being the star of the game.  That’s because Buddy Hield was.

The Oklahoma senior took 23 shots, made 13 and finished with a career-high 46 points while making a strong case that he should be the leading candidate for National Player of the Year. This was Hield’s fifth 30-point game this season, and his fourth in OU’s past seven contests. And yet it might forever be bittersweet in his mind, and for three reasons.

Hield turned the ball over with 8.6 seconds left in the third OT.  Hield missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that, if good, would’ve forced a fourth OT.  And, of course, Oklahoma lost.

Still, what a game — for Hield, for Ellis and for college basketball in general.

You like comebacks?

There were plenty. And what’ll be forgotten by most, because of the three overtime periods, is that both teams actually held double-digit leads in regulation. Kansas led 32-21 in the first half. Then Oklahoma led 54-44 in the second half.

Still, the game was somehow tied at the end of regulation. And tied at the end of one overtime. And tied again at the end of a second overtime, at which point it became only the second No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in college basketball history to ever reach three OTs.

In sports and in life, there will be missis and miscues, bloops and blunders, errors and errata. But don’t lose hope. There will be another big game, another big matchup and another big showdown. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t beat yourself down. Take it from me. I was tired last night, and I still overslept this morning! So, don’t lose heart because I won’t lose sleep. While you can’t win’ em all, you can still try, try, try again.