When Team USA opened training camp earlier this week against Team USA Select, there was quickly a common thread in murmured words about the practices. Kings forward-center DeMarcus Cousins was fouling. Everyone. His physicality was praised by Kobe Bryant, but the underlying sentiment was the same as it has been in Sacramento, which was Cousins' physicality, attitude and demeanor were grading on teammates and coaches.
It went so far as Team USA head Jerry Colangelo openly criticizing Cousins' maturity. From USA Today:
"He needs to mature as a person (and) as a player if he's going to have an outstanding NBA career," Colangelo said Saturday.
"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," Colangelo said.
That's a pretty common comment about Cousins from his time in Sacramento. But Cousins fired back to reporters on Monday, saying that in fact, he hadn't even spoken to Colangelo until Monday:
"I've never spoken to him. I just went out of my way to ask. I wanted to know. I kind of took offense to it, because I really came in here trying to play hard. For him to say that, it kind of puts a step back in how I'm trying to grow...I know it's my reptuation, so I come in with the odds against me.
On whether he wishes Colangelo would have shared his opinion privately as opposed to publicly...
"It definitely bothered me, because I know I came in here and I'm busting my a** just to give my team a chance to even compete with these guys. So for him to go out and say that, I mean it was kind of messed up. Like I said, he has a right to his opinion.
The reality is that Cousins' approach tends to swing between sulking teenager, walking through rotations and defense, and erupting volcano, always threatening to boil over and destroy the village and its inhabitants. But in between is a phenomenal player that would have been a huge help to Team USA with its size problems.
Cousins will likely get there. His attitude is much more Charles Barkley than off-court trouble maker. But the situation with Colangelo shows that either he ges a bad rap he can't escape, or he's still got a long process in front of him. It'll be interesting to see how he's treated for the 2014 FIBA World's Games process.