FOX Sports Exclusive
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 Cousins.
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 Texas.
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 goofball:
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.