King me! Shaq to mentor Cousins?

Shaquille O’Neal has never exactly gone easy on the
Sacramento Kings,
regularly referring to the team as the
“Sacramento Queens,” eliminating them from the playoffs
on the way to each of the Lakers’ three championships during
the Shaq Era and penning this little ditty about Vlade Divac:

But the Kings might be willing to forgive all of that if the Big
Diesel can help get the most out of troubled big man DeMarcus

According to CBS Sacramento, O’Neal was
in Northern California on Wednesday and met with new Kings owners
Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov in Menlo Park. Mastrov also happens
to be the founder of 24 Hour Fitness, a company that has
partnered with Shaq on 10 gyms in Florida and

The meeting was reportedly to discuss the future Hall of Famer
O’Neal mentoring Cousins, who has shown plenty of promise on
the court — averaging 16.3 points and 9.8 rebounds through
three NBA seasons — but whose issues with maturity and
authority have held him back since being drafted fifth overall out
of Kentucky in 2010.

The most notable of Cousins’ off-court transgressions came
in January 2012, when then-Kings coach Paul Westphal
sent Cousins home from a game. Westphal later
released a statement that Cousins “lets it be known that he is
unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his
team” and had asked for a trade. Four days later,
Westphal was fired.

Then in December 2012, Cousins
was briefly suspended from the Kings for
“conduct detrimental to the team,” stemming from a halftime
argument with Westphal’s replacement, Keith Smart. Cousins then
fired his agent and hired one
who had previous beef with the Kings
organization. Smart was fired in May after his first full season as
coach, and the Kings
replaced him with Mike Malone.

Now, I’m not sure Shaq is necessarily a bastion of
maturity, but O’Neal told CBS Sacramento he was going to
“make DeMarcus Cousins the best big man in the game” —
and if there’s anything Shaq knows a thing or two about,
it’s being at the top of his game while also being a complete

The more daunting challenge for O’Neal, however, will be
getting Cousins to start respecting authority, and that may be a
task too big even for Shaq to tackle.