Freedom to Boogie: Demarcus Cousins' American Dream

Imagine for a moment you're a chef. Not just like an "I can grill a few burgers" kind of chef, but someone who gets paid good money to cook food for people. You cook food at a local steakhouse, and you do alright. Pay is good, but the environment isn't great, and the restaurant isn't making a ton of money, and they're never gonna be one of the better ones in the area because they just don't have the best management or wait staff or busboys.

So then on your way home one night from a long day of cooking well-done ribeyes for the locals who for some reason want their steak well-done, you get a call on your phone. You don't recognize the number, but you answer anyway. The conversation goes as such:

You: Hello?

Them: Is this [let's call you Bill] from the Highway 29 Diner?

You: Uh, yeah. Who's this?

Them: This is Wolfgang Puck. You might have heard of me. I'm a world-renowned chef.

You: What? Wolfgang Puck?

Wolfgang: Yes. I wanted to propose something to you.

You: Uh, ok.

Wolfgang: I want you to come to be a cook in my kitchen in Beverly Hills.

You: In where?

Wolfgang: Beverly Hills. In California.

You: For real, who is this?

Wolfgang: Wolfgang Puck. Bill, we've watched you for a while, and we think you'd be a great asset to our team of chefs.

You: for real?

Wolfgang: Yes. What do you say?

You: I don't know man. I mean, you already have so many great cooks.

Wolfgang: Yes, but Bill, you'd make an excellent addition. We don't have someone of your skill set. We have the Mrs. Dash Brothers who spice up every dish, we have a chef named KD who cooks well when he's not on anonymous Twitter handles, and a guy named Draymond who is efficient even when he throws pots and pans at the occasional complaining customer. But we need you, Bill.

You: What will I get paid?

Wolfgang: Look, we know you've been injured some. We know your hand is still sore from the “flaming salmon” incident from last year. But we want to do what we can to take care of you as part of our team. How's five-million dollars sound?

You: Sounds great. But I still don't know if I can just leave where I am though.

Wolfgang: Why not, do you have any other offers from other restaurants?

You: [silence]

Wolfgang: Exactly. Look, we're the best restaurant in America. I'm the best head chef in America. Why would you say no to us?

You: But what if people don't like me leaving?

Wolfgang: Nobody ever really likes winners. That's because there's so few of us, and so many of them...the losers.

You: When can I start?

-end scene-


This is basically what happened Tuesday when Demarcus Cousins, an All-NBA big man who is injured, often disgruntled, but can dominate a game like few others, decided he'd sign with the best of the best, the Golden State Warriors. And people didn't like it. In fact, some went as far as to say they'd never watch the NBA again until the league reclaimed some sense of competitive balance.

And they're right. Having a former All-Star that isn't even 30 yet join this era's dynasty fresh off a Finals repeat seems...unfair. Just as Lebron heads west to become the next Laker great, just as Paul George reaffirms his commitment to OKC, and just as the Rockets lock in Chris Paul, the Warriors pull out an unexpected ace from their championship sleeves and sign Boogie Cousins.

What's absurd about the uproar of it all is this: some people are actually mad at Boogie Cousins for this move, which seems insane that anyone would be upset at another human being for choosing to go work for a successful company, but I digress.

Boogie is being thrown in the Lebron and KD camp of "ring chasers" as if that wasn't something every single player for every single team does every single season. Chase rings. Everyone wants to win a title. So we rip the guys at the end of their career for never winning a title, but then get mad at them for going to a different team to win a title. 

Two massively important components to Boogie's situation: first, he's coming off an injury that destroys the career of many athletes. A torn Achilles. I don't really know what that means, but during an intramural game in college, I hurt my knee and the next day like a wounded soldier I dragged my immobile left leg across campus to have some trainers look at it and tell me I might have torn my meniscus. So if a torn Achilles is even more painful than that, I think I'd prefer to just not ever pick up a basketball again. But Boogie Cousins...he's a different animal than you and me.

Secondly, no one wanted Boogie. Or at least that's how it appears. 29 teams didn't reach out to him about a contract. The one who did just happened to be the best team in the league. What do you want Boogie to do? Not take that call? That would be like me after my traumatic potential torn meniscus injury getting a call from the college team saying they want to offer me a scholarship. Bro, I love my intramural team, but I'm taking the scholly.

The reality is nobody knows what Boogie will be like when he finally returns from his injury (which might not be until February). I guess the Warriors saw little risk in signing a guy for half a year that could potentially be a huge inside force and is certainly a step up from Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee. But really a mini-fridge with Gatorade bottles stacked seven-fee-tall on top of it would be a step up from either of those guys.

Demarcus Cousins is great. He's selfish and whiny but is an absolute bull in the paint. Over the past ten years, he's been around a top 12-15 player in the league. But he's never really had a stable place to learn and be coached. In Sacramento, he played for 7 different coaches over 8 seasons. I once worked a job where I had 5 different bosses over 9 years and I thought it was terrible. Now Cousins has a chance to play with the best and learn from the best. 

Let Boogie be Boogie. Let him go play with the best and probably win a ring. We all want that in life. We all want the freedom to go taste success. We all want Wolfgang Puck to call us up and join his team. And even if we don't want to leave where we currently are, we all want to win. And just as important, we want the freedom to go do it.