I'm rooting for DeMarcus Cousins and the Golden State Warriors.
Before Cousins came to the New Orleans Pelicans a couple of years ago, I knew little about him other than that he was a troubled player for the Sacramento Kings, known for feuding with coaches, drawing technical fouls, and jostling with opposing players. I didn't remember that he'd played a year for John Calipieri's hated Kentucky Wildcats.
But Cousins was a model player for the Pelicans, complementing Anthony Davis and sparking the bedraggled team toward the playoffs.
I found myself upset when Cousins' season ended with a horrible ankle injury, received as he was running down court. I saw the injury as a tragic reminder of the fragility of athletic glory.
Cousins underwent months of grueling rehabilition, and some thought he'd never play again. The Pels refused to re-sign him. But then, showing why they have won so many championships, the Warriors signed the big center, who can rumble inside and shoot three pointers. He joined the Warriors in midseason this year, and played well until suffering yet another injury in the first game of the playoffs.
I was happy for the man known as Boogie when he played a few moments in the Warriors' loss to the Toronto Raptors in the first game of the NBA finals. Looking at how the splendid splinter Pascal Saikam had torched the Warriors inside, I thought, man, I need to get in touch with Steve Kerr and tell him to put Cousins in the starting lineup. I thought the former all-star and Olympian would give the Warriors a shot of adrenaline to overcome the continued absence of Kevin Durant.
Great minds think alike, as they say. Kerr put Cousins in the starting lineup Sunday, and he came through with a masterful performance, reminiscent of Bill Walton's Portland days, to lead the Warriors to a second-game victory. With 11 points and 10 rebounds, Cousins also channeled Walton as a high-post passer, dishing out six assists.
Although commentator Mark Jackson kept muttering something about Cousins' defensive liabilities on the "pick and roll,", he helped Draymond Green stiflle Siakam, and kept pulling down rebounds against the rugged offensive board king Kawhi Leonard.
When the refs called a technical foul and the camera alighted on Cousins, I said oh, no, he's reverting to his old ways. No worries. The foul was called on the ailing Steph Curry for throwing the ball up into the air for some reason.
Like the wise old veterans the New York Yankees used to pick up back in the day, Cousins now displays a calm maturity, although he's only 28 years old.
Fine Raptors coach Nick Nurse only used eight players, while Kerr reached deep into his bench, receiving strong contributions from the burly Andrew Bogut and World B Free incarnation Quin Cook.
Old pro Andre Iguodala, his legs aching, hit a late three pointer to secure the Warriors win after Nurse had done something unprecedented: Use the old box-and-1 in the NBA.
Jeff Van Gundy was aghast at the zone defense. Van Gundy also castigated Iguodala for shooting the wide open shot. Easy to see why Jackson and Van Gundy are no longer coaching in the NBA.
I really don't like pulling for the Warriors. The Raptors look like a nice enough team, displaying Cleveland's community spirit from the LeBron glory days. The Warriors are leaving blue-collar, blues-guitar Oakland, which supported them through many bad years, for a new palace in San Francisco that will cater to Silicon Valley billionaires.
But because of DeMarcus Cousins, I'll pull for the Warriors to win yet another championship.