Jul 9, 2012 10:01 PM by Mary Jo Perino
True Blue Fans know and love Demarcus Cousins for all that he is, which includes his big, and sometimes misunderstood, personality.
When the head of USA Basketball Jerry Colangelo made comments about Cousins having "some growing up to do", they probably could have guessed that the former UK center would respond. And he did.
Cousins, who turns 22 next month, said he met with Colangelo briefly after Monday's U.S. men's Olympic basketball team practice here with the U.S. select team, of which Cousins is a member.
"I asked him how I was being immature," Cousins said. "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. I'm not trying to be any of that. I have respect for every veteran in here, so at the end of the day, I'm really just trying to play hard."
On a teleconference call with news reporters Saturday, Colangelo was asked about Cousins.
"He needs to mature as a person (and) as a player if he's going to have an outstanding NBA career," Colangelo said.
Colangelo added: "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."
Cousins said he was stunned. He's got a reputation for having a bad attitude, but he says that's just not the case.
"I went out of my way to ask," Cousins said. "I wanted to know, and I kind of took offense to it. I really came here trying to play hard and just be above that. ... For him to say that, it was kind of messed up."
Cousins clashed at times with former Kings coach Paul Westphal this past season. Westphal, still with the Kings, said Cousins asked to be traded twice,prompting Westphal to tell him not to accompany the team on the road against the New Orleans Hornets.
Cousins, who played one season at Kentucky, also has had issues with his temper on the court. He shared the league lead in technical fouls (12) with Oklahoma City Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins and often reveals his frustration with dispirited effort.
U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski was also asked about Cousins' immaturity, getting to know him a little while he practiced with the guys on the USA Select team.
"He has a talent. He's big. He's young," Krzyzewski said. "You don't know what an experience will do for someone. You're hopeful it will open their eyes to new things. I think that's what's it done for all players who have participated for the United States. His time here, playing in this culture and against these guys, sometimes can have a positive change for all the players participating.
Hopefully, it has on him and other others."