Charles Barkley has nothing against DeMarcus Cousins. Like many NBA observers, the Hall-of-Fame power forward believes that Cousins has all the skills and abilities to be the best big man in the game.
But for whatever reason, Barkley gets the sense that the 23-year-old center doesn’t like him.
“You know, every time I say something about him, he hates me and he can’t stand me,” the 51-year-old player-turned-TV-analyst said Tuesday afternoon.
Barkley joined media for a conference call to promote the 25th annual American Century Golf Championship, a celebrity golf tournament that takes place every summer at Edgewood Resort in Lake Tahoe. Barkley initially shied away from saying much about the Sacramento Kings’ franchise player when asked. But after it was pointed out that he’s not the only member of the media that takes heat from Cousins, Barkley opened up and shared his take on the Kings starting center.
“The kid thinks that we don’t like him,” Barkley said of Cousins’ perception of the press. “He can’t do stupid stuff and us not criticize him. It’s nothing personal.
“That’s the thing that drives me crazy about all these players,” Barkley added. “When I did crazy stuff, I actually got criticized, but I didn’t hate every media guy in the world. Y’all job is to ask me when I do something stupid, ‘Why did you do something stupid?'”
Barkley was referring to Cousins’ history of distractions since being taken with the fifth overall pick by the Kings in the 2010 NBA Draft. The Kings starting center played relatively issue free this year, with the exception of two suspensions from the league. In four NBA seasons, Cousins has not played an entire campaign without receiving some sort of disciplinary action from either the league or the Kings.
“When he does stuff, what am I supposed to say?” Barkley asked rhetorically. “And that’s the only thing that drives me crazy about that situation.”
Like Cousins, Barkley hails from Alabama. Every time he visits home, he hears it from the locals who assume he doesn’t like Cousins. The 1993 NBA MVP finds himself having to explain that he has nothing against the talented big man out of Mobile, but that it’s his job to give his opinion on what he sees.
They ask him why he hates Cousins. His response? “Wait a minute,” Barkley said. “I don’t even know DeMarcus Cousins. I have nothing against him.”
Barkley hopes for nothing but the best for the Kings’ franchise player. Cousins, who signed a four-year, $62-million extension last offseason, took steps toward becoming a better leader this past season. He also posted the best year of his career statistically, averaging 22.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 71 games. However, his individual success has not yet been able to translate to team success as the Kings missed the postseason for an eight consecutive year.
“I would like to see him grow up and be an All-Star because he’s got the talent to be the best big man in the game,” Barkley said. “But it takes more than talent.”
Barkley thinks Kings were disappointment, roots for their improvement
Barkley wasn’t too pleased with the Kings’ overall performance this year. The Hall-of-Fame forward said he was “very disappointed” with how the Kings played.
“I thought they would be better to be honest with you,” Barkley said. “I did. I thought they would get better. You know, they’ve had all these lottery picks the last X amount of years and I was answering a question earlier – you wanna be like ‘Oh, they got a bunch of good young players.’ And I didn’t like what I saw out in Sacramento this year to be honest with you.”
To the Kings’ credit, they did play through an unusual amount of change and turnover this past year. With new management gutting the team left by the old regime, a total 23 players suited up for the Kings this season. By the end of the year, only four players from the 2012-13 roster (Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Jason Thompson and Travis Outlaw) remained in Sacramento.
Though critical of their play, Barkley wants to see success for the Kings sooner rather than later. His friendship with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, as well as the support of Kings fans, are two reasons why he’d like to see Sacramento return to NBA relevance.
“He did an amazing job of keeping that team in Sacramento because I think they got some good fans there,” Barkley said. “I always tell people even when that team sucked when I played back in the eighties, they were selling out every game. Those fans were pretty amazing. So that and with Kevin Johnson, I root for Sacramento.”