Let older NBA fans tell it and the NBA is absent of rivalries, both on a team-to-team scale and a player-to-player scale. But the closer you pay attention to the league, the more you notice that rivalries are alive and well, just in a small capacity that doesn’t dominate the NBA.
Insert Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. In a podcast with Grantland creator and NBA on ESPN analyst Bill Simmons, Cousins had a chance to speak on the budding rivalry between he and Los Angeles Clippers superstars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
Bill Simmons: You don’t really like Blake. I’ve been to a few games. I know you can’t really talk about it, but there’s definitely something with you guys that I’ve noticed.
DeMarcus Cousins: I don’t have a problem with Blake.
Simmons: Well, you wouldn’t say if you did.
Cousins: I would actually.
Simmons: Well, there’s definitely a little rivalry. I thought you guys had a little beef right?
Cousins: Just a little rivalry, but I don’t have a problem with Blake.
Simmons: Didn’t you guys almost get in a fight once.
Simmons: Altercation? Argument?
Cousins: No. [laughs]
Simmons: Are you sure? I swear I was at a game where that might’ve happened.
Simmons: There was some talking?
Cousins: Probably me and CP, but not me and Blake. I don’t have a problem with Blake.
Simmons: Oh you’re one of the guys who doesn’t like… there’s a lot of guys who, CP kinda bugs em.
Cousins: Yeah, I dislike CP a lot.
Simmons: CP does a lot of talking.
Cousins: I know.
Simmons: Do you.. what if you saw him off the court, you’d be okay with him right, no?
Cousins: I don’t have any problem.
Simmons: The good news is you’re like 12 inches taller than him if you… he’s like 5’10.
Cousins: I know. That’s usually who it goes. It’s the small ones.
Simmons: Could you play with somebody like that who’s just like chihuahua, just barking at everybody for three hours?
Cousins: Yeah cause I’m the same way.
With Griffin, the rivalry began in 2012, Cousins pointed out Blake Griffin’s defense, or the lack of, following a matchup, making the comment “At least I attempt to play defense.” Later that season, the two big men would trade words, with Cousins calling Griffin an actor. Griffin would respond to Cousins’ claim in a sarcastic manner, referring to his commercials, before proclaiming he didn’t care.
With Paul and Cousins, their personal rivalry began in 2014 when Cousins grew tired of the Clippers flopping ways and proclaimed them cheaters.
“Just their playing style of basketball. I don’t respect it. I feel like it’s basically cheating and I don’t respect a cheater. If that’s your tactic to winning, I don’t respect you.”
Chris Paul would respond by saying Cousins’ youth was the issue and that the 23-year-old franchise player needed guidance.
The rivalry would meet it’s peak during “Handshake-gate” when DeMarcus Cousins emphatically pulled former teammate Isaiah Thomas away from greeting Paul during post-game handshakes, an act that was caught by the network’s cameras.
Here is the full conversation between Cousins and Simmons below.