In the aftermath of the incident between Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and a fan a few weeks ago, DeMarcus Cousins revealed his own experiences with reckless fans.
In a recent appearance on Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes Posted Up video podcast, Cousins divulged that he was a target for racial slurs.
“Oh, I’ve been called n______,” he said to Haynes.
"I've been called n**** ... this happened to me on a few occasions." @boogiecousins speaking about his worst fan interactions on Posted Up w/@ChrisBHaynes.— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) March 25, 2019
➡️ https://t.co/gEleM1TiTd pic.twitter.com/E4SOxVxsEK
Being called that particular racial epithet isn’t surprising at all. What’s surprising and shocking however, is the league’s reaction when Cousins tried to bring the incidents to their attention.
“And it’s crazy because this has happened to me on a few occasions. I reported it to the league and you know, I may have said whatever I said back and I was still punished for it,” Cousins said.
“But obviously it became a bigger issue when it was Russ, and he was still fined for it. I don’t really understand it . We’re the product. We push the league. When does our safety, when does it become important.”
So, Cousins tried to give the league a heads up about hostile interactions between belligerent fans and players and even told league officials about his own experience, but he received a fine for his reaction nonetheless. During the playoffs last season, Westbrook mentioned how the league need to do more to protect the players, but he too received crickets from the league.
Before the Utah Jazz banned Shane Keisel permanently, enforcement of code of conduct has only gone as far as receiving warning cards. Given the rep and the perceptions of highly emotional players like Cousins or like Westbrook, it’s a wonder that there wasn’t a “Malice at the Palace” type of situation before. What’s worth watching and monitoring is will the league continue to “crack down” and strictly enforce a fans code of conduct? Or will the league eventually become lenient in enforcing the rules?
Regardless of whatever happens, nothing should surprise anyone anymore.