King me! Shaq to mentor Cousins?

Shaquille O’Neal has never exactly gone easy on the

Sacramento Kings,

href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/0903/nba.shaq.speaks.his.mind/content.11.html"

target="_blank">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.

href="http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2013/06/25/shaq-meeting-with-kings-owners-says-hell-make-cousins-best-big-man-in-the-game/"

target="_blank">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

href="http://www.24hourfitness.com/health_clubs/signature_clubs/shaq/"

target="_blank">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

href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/sam_amick/01/01/demarcus.cousins.kings/index.html"

target="_blank">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,

href="http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/NBA-Sacramento-Kings-fire-Paul-Westphal-after-feud-with-DeMarcus-Cousins-010511"

target="_blank">Westphal was fired.

Then in December 2012, Cousins

href="http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/Sacramento-Kings-suspend-center-DeMarcus-Cousins-indefinitely-122212"

target="_blank">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

href="http://www.sactownroyalty.com/2012/12/23/3797610/demarcus-cousins-dan-fegan-sacramento-kings-geoff-petrie"

target="_blank">who had previous beef with the Kings

organization. Smart was fired in May after his first full season as

coach, and the Kings

target="_blank">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.