DeMarcus Cousins has a funny, strange way of showing respect to rookie Joel Embiid

Always temperamental, DeMarcus Cousins has made it a habit of getting into it with other big men, officials and the media. But there is a more congenial and humorous side to Cousins, which Sixers rookie Joel Embiid was able to bring out in Sacramento's 102-100 victory over Philadelphia on Monday.

Early in the game, Embiid was whistled for a traveling violation while being guarded by Cousins, causing the Sixers rookie to look in the direction of officials for an explanation while he walked back up the court. At that moment Cousins, for whatever reason, decided to give Embiid some props with a big ol' slap on the butt. Embiid precociously returned the gesture, slapping Cousins' rear end. This caused the two talented big men to happily slap each other a couple more times as they headed up the court.

Cousins' respect for Embiid only grew throughout the game.

Embiid played toe-to-toe with Cousins and finished the game with 25 points, eight rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in just under 29 minutes. Cousins had himself a game as well, finishing with 30 points (10-for-20 shooting), seven rebounds, and two blocks. He even had the game-saving block on Embiid with seconds left in the game:

Afterwards, Cousins praised Embiid but he jokingly wasn't too effusive.

"I like that kid a lot," Cousins said. "I don't give a lot of people props, but I like that kid a lot. I think he's got a great chance at being the best big in the league ... after I retire."

The grin Cousins gives after delivering his joke is priceless. But Cousins did provide more non-joking praise to Embiid in the Kings' locker room.

"That kid is special, man," Cousins said of Embiid, via the Sacramento Bee. "All jokes aside, I really think he's a good player. This is my first time ever interacting with Embiid and also feeling how physical he is as well. We were joking around, I think he's a cool guy, good kid. His talent is through the roof. Once he gets a better understanding of the game, it's going to be scary. That's a special kid."

It is hard to disagree with Cousins, especially since Embiid has just been phenomenal all season. And like he says, whenever Embiid "gets a better understanding of the game," the Sixers big man will join Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Marc Gasol, Rudy Gobert and others in the conversation for best centers in the league.

CBS Sports Writer

Ananth Pandian has been writing about all NBA-related things including the social and lifestyle aspect of the sport for CBS Sports since 2015. His name is actually easy to pronounce, just remember it is... Full Bio

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