Boogie and The Brow
The pictures seem to tell the story. A quick search on Google of “Demarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis” brings back several photos of the two Kentucky alum and USA teammates. One shows the two side by side with each other’s families watching the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game last Friday, another reveals them in each other’s embrace, drenched in smiles, bottle of Champagne in Davis’ hand after defeating Serbia in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. The best one of all features Cousins reaching out and tousling Davis’ hair like a big brother, both sitting courtside at a Kentucky game, John Calipari grinning over them like a doting father. It comes as no surprise the men share an admiration for one another, perhaps bonded by their alma mater, perhaps from being the two most dominant big men in the NBA at present day. Whatever the reason, Davis and Cousins have nothing but love for one another and it shows in every photo where the two are in each other’s company.
Another thing apparent in these photos besides their obvious bromance, is that in an awful lot of them, Cousins is smiling, something that during his stint with the Sacramento Kings you didn’t see all too often. From his public feud with George Karl to his verbal assault on a local Sacramento sports reporter about writing about his brother, Boogie looked nothing like the guy in the photos with Davis. He shouted “F@#$ Golden State” at fans after the Kings February 5 win over the Warriors. We have seen him grimace and gripe at calls Ray Charles could have seen. When you place his public persona alongside his mountain of technical fouls, Boogie Cousins seems like a very angry guy, difficult to control, reckless. Quite the opposite from Anthony Davis, who despite being as formidable and intense on the floor, keeps his anger in check and frustrations to himself, despite finding himself in a very similar situation: being one of the best players in the league stuck with an inconsistent franchise that has failed to give him any real support in his 5 years as a professional player. Yeah, the Pelicans made the playoffs in 2015 but were swept by the Deathstar Golden State Warriors en route to their first championship. It looked like a jumping off point for the franchise and it’s unibrowed star before a disappointing 2015-2016 campaign that left the Pels with only 30 wins and saw Davis spend the end of the season on the bench due to a shoulder injury. But despite this, Davis has kept his thoughts to himself except to reaffirm that he loves New Orleans and wants to bring a NBA championship to the city.
Opposites attract goes the adage and the Cousins/Davis combo is certainly an extension of this tired metaphor. The chances of them having success in terms of play on the floor almost seems like a given. Of course, there are detractors claiming this type of “twin tower” tandem won’t work in today’s NBA landscape of fast pace guard play and bombing up shots from well outside the 3-point line and, while yet to be seen, it’s a good bet the way these two perform on the floor with each other won’t be a problem. Both men are averaging more than 27 PPG, 10+ RPG, and with Cousins being a better passer inside, how could it not work? With no team, except the Spurs, effectively lining up against the Pel’s front court, the real question is how these two men’s personalities can coexist together without driving each other mad and the team into shambles.
What most likely will happen in New Orleans will be the hardwood equivalent of the good cop/ bad cop routine with Davis and Boogie since essentially they are bizarro versions of one another, the yin to the others yang. Their on-court relationship will probably resemble Jules and Vincent’s from Pulp Fiction. Davis as Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules, the cerebral philosophical hitman, laying down sermons and poetic beauty alongside vicious violence, wishing more than anything to live like Kane from Kung Fu, peacefully searching the universe, calm and collected. This leaves Cousins as John Travolta’s Vincent Vega, the loose cannon, the ignorant blazing gun who shoots first and asks question later, held only in check by the Zen like presence and patience of Jules. We can expect Boogie to continue to dish out punishment in the post and occasionally get carried away, bristling about bad calls, mere seconds away from pulling the trigger, gun to the head of the Pelicans season but Davis will keep everything cool, just like the Fonz, the hand that steadies the rocking boat. In Sacramento, there were no other players to hold Cousins accountable or help guide him in those moments of crisis but that all changes now. The Pelicans are Anthony Davis’ team and Boogie is coming to be a part of his squad. While Boogie was the face of the franchise in Sacramento, he was not the de facto leader with several reports over the last few years indicating most of his teammates in hated playing with him. Boogie was never shy about controversy, let it be criticizing refs or calling other players “clowns”, but he is no longer the rouge sheriff in town and will be held accountable by Davis especially as the season gets closer to the playoffs. With each technical received, Cousins will now be forced to serve a one game suspension and with the Pelicans only 2.5 games behind the Nuggets for the eighth seed, the one or two games Cousins may spend out of the lineup, could cost New Orleans a postseason spot. There will absolutely be trying moments and the gun in Boogie’s hand will occasionally go off; it’s just his nature. But with Davis, there is now someone who can be the fixer in these extreme situations, someone to attempt to dial back the mayhem before the rest of the season becomes a blood-soaked ride of terror.
This trade could end up of being a defining moment in this current NBA season, Cousins’ career, and New Orleans’ next few years as a franchise depending on how it plays out. Cousins could show that his bad behavior and grumpiness were no more than a product of a bad environment and losing culture in Sacramento or he could go full nuclear, melting down the Smoothie Center and revealing the Kings as the true winners in this exchange. But no matter what happens, the responsibility will fall on Davis to do the best he can to control his friend, the force of nature that is Boogie Cousins. It will be up Davis to keep him smiling, and at all costs, stop the Pelicans season from incurring the same fate as Marvin in Pulp Fiction’s infamous car ride scene. One bump and everything could go “boom”, leaving the Pelicans a huge mess to clean up where there never was one in the first place.