Team USA guard Kevin Durant, guard Russell Westbrook and center DeMarcus Cousins during practice at the UNLV Mendenhall Center. (PHOTO: US PRESSWIRE)
LAS VEGAS, NV - Two days ago Team USA basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo raised concerns over the maturity of Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.
By Monday, Cousins had enough and confronted Colangelo.
"I asked him how I was being immature," Cousins said, after an afternoon practice session with Team USA. "He never really gave me an answer. He just said it was his opinion. I told him I'm just trying to come out and play hard."
According to Cousins, Monday afternoon's discussion with Colangelo was the first time he had ever spoken with him.
"He's got a long way to go, in terms of his game, but this is great experience for him," Colangelo told News10 on Friday. "Some people were pushing for him - if he really had a chance to make this team, and if you saw today, that would have been a little bit of a stretch."
During Friday's scrimmage with Team USA, Cousins was physical and, true to form during his two seasons in the NBA, was very foul prone.
"He fouled the s--- out of everybody," said New York Knicks and Team USA forward Carmelo Anthony on Friday, where he even elbowed Andre Iguodala in the the eye during the scrimmage.
After the 12-man Olympic roster was set, Colangelo questioned the maturity level of the Kings young center.
"He needs to be more mature as a person, as a player, if he's going to have an outstanding NBA career," Colangelo said in a conference call. "Before there's discussion about him being part of our program, he has a lot of building to do....He has a lot of growing up to do."
After not making the Olympic team, then hearing Colangelo's comments, Cousins felt he needed to meet with him man-to-man.
"It definitely bothered me," Cousins said. "I know I've come in and busted my ass just to give my team a chance. So, for him to go out there and say that, it was kind of messed up."
As a member of the U.S. Select team, Cousins knew he'd be a long-shot to make the Olympic team, but he was determined to work hard and leave a positive impression in hopes for future consideration. Many members of Team USA thought Cousins would be a physical addition to the team in international play.
Since Friday's opening day of camp, Cousins has made significant progress according to members of Team USA and US Select team head coach Jay Triano.
An NBA source told News10 on Sunday that Cousins was the best player on the floor during a US Select team scrimmage, while Team USA practiced separately. This was a complete turnaround from the first day, where Cousins struggled to remain on the floor. He insisted that performance was a fluke.
"The first day, none of us expected it would be like this," said Cousins, referring the the chippy play and physical nature on Friday. "So all of us were a little messed up in the head, but all of us have gotten better."
The 21-year-old Cousins felt he had made signifigant progress from those maturity issues from his first two seasons in Sacramento. He said he felt Colangelo's comments didn't help him move away from the subject.
Cousins' maturity has been a subject well documented since his only season at Kentucky in college. He even clashed with former Kings head coach Paul Westphal. Westphal claimed Cousins demanded twice to be traded and even kicked him out of several team practices.
Westphal was fired just seven games into the lockout shortened 11-12 season.
Despite the drama between he and Colangelo, Cousins said the two cleared the air, ended on a positive note and his appetite for Team USA basketball hasn't soured over it.
"He's entitled to his opinion," said Cousins. "It's not what I expected, but at the end of the day, I'm learning and I'm having fun and bonding with my teammates. It's a fun experience."
By Sean Cunningham, SCunningham@News10.net