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O.J. Mayo on DeMarcus Cousins: “That guy has some mental issues.”

Dec 11, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT

DeMarcus Cousins AP

Down 25 points in the second quarter against the Dallas Mavericks, DeMarcus Cousins swung his arm backward while battling for position and struck O.J. Mayo directly below the belt. Mayo’s reaction to the hit and the ensuing fallout resulted in technicals for both players, but the real jabs were thrown after the game:

“It wasn’t intentional, but there was a lot of trash talk,” said Cousins, who had been fighting Mayo for position when he delivered the no-look blow behind him.

“Man, I was so pissed,” Mayo said after his 19-point, seven-rebound performance in the rout. “It’s just, where does that come in in the game, you know what I mean? He’s a talented player, has a chance to be an All-Star. But you do stuff like that, it takes you down a class.”

“That guy has some mental issues, man,” Mayo said. “He’s a talented player. He has an opportunity to be the face of that organization, but I don’t think he wants it. …

“He’s immature, man. Big maturity problem. Hopefully, he’ll grow up out of it and become great. He definitely has the talent to.”

From ESPNDallas.com  | Tim MacMahon 

Let’s get something out of the way first. O.J. Mayo is having an incredible season, and he seems like a very intelligent guy, but he should be the last person in the world scolding someone for being immature.

After all, this is the same O.J. Mayo who burst on to the national scene in high school by showing up his opponents during a blowout, throwing the ball high into the stands after a dunk. This is the same O.J. Mayo that was involved in heavy recruiting violations that led to USC vacating all of its wins that year. Yes, this is the same O.J. Mayo that got in a fist-fight with Tony Allen over a gambling debt, was suspended 10 games for violating the league’s anti-drug policy, and bristled publicly about his role on a playoff team.

So while Mayo has learned how to stay out of trouble and be a top scorer in Dallas, it also appears he’s learned how to mount very, very tall horses. While his condescending tone towards Cousins is understandable considering the location of the blow, the projecting he does is perhaps most interesting. The same exact things Mayo says to Cousins could have easily been said to him months prior, and aside from the “mental issues” comment, it almost sounds like Mayo is doing some veiled empathizing with Cousins during his plight to stardom.

To be fair, Cousins has made plenty of mistakes during his first few years, but more often than not, they’re rooted in pride. Getting called out by an announcer, getting stomped by 25 points — these are things that attack a competitive person at their very core, and maybe it’s not the worst thing that Cousins hasn’t gone the way of so many other talented lottery picks by throwing in the towel completely. Many others would have already crumbled under the load of expectations, the scrutiny, and the constant character attacks.

Although occasionally misguided, Cousins’ passion is still evident, so the hope lives on that once he finds a more stable situation, his pride will no longer manifest itself in selfish, damaging acts, but instead will spark the great performances he’s capable of. His competitive fire needs to be tamed, not extinguished.

That’s the shame of it all, though. Often times this season, it does seem like Cousins has lost pride in his team and is playing mostly for himself. Watch him on the defensive end or when he doesn’t have the ball. He just sort of stands there, only re-engaging when directly attacked or when he’s given the ball again. Those are the types of things that can become habitual, and that’s much, much more alarming than a moment where frustration may have boiled over.

Cousins seems to be encouraged to both hurry up and wait, which makes you wonder what will happen to his dream of stardom and success that’s been deferred. Maybe it will just sag like a heavy load, like it has for so many others. Or will it explode?

  1. skids003 - Dec 11, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    This time, Mayo is right. Cousins has issues. He’s not real bright.

    • florida727 - Dec 11, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      For some reason, the first word that comes to mind whenever Cousins name gets mentioned is: punk.

    • zerole00 - Dec 11, 2012 at 2:57 PM

      Yeah I don’t get why the writer’s referencing something that happened back in high school in relation to a player’s current maturity. Even months ago – it doesn’t matter. What matters is now, and I’m not even a Mayo fan. It doesn’t sound like he was speaking with contempt given how often he complimented Cousins’ talent.

  2. mrlaloosh - Dec 11, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    Zzzzzzzz

    • sabatimus - Dec 11, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      You type in your sleep. That’s talent.

    • badintent - Dec 11, 2012 at 8:26 PM

      ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. addict2sport - Dec 11, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    No place in any sport for what Cousins did.

  4. metalhead65 - Dec 11, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    how many years does couisins get to use the young and immature card? at some point you just have accept he is who is and is never going to change no matter how many times his faults are pointed out. and why bring up mayo’s past? yes he did all those things but maybe he has learned and grown up at least so far this year.

    • paleihe - Dec 11, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      Z-Bo was the same way for a while, until he got to Memphis and cleaned up his act.

      • D.J. Foster - Dec 11, 2012 at 12:17 PM

        After multiple seasons in the league, Mayo and Randolph both received fresh starts with new teams. But DeMarcus Cousins, 22 years old and in his third year with the same losing franchise, “is who he is” already? I brought up Mayo’s past to illustrate how a player’s reputation can change the instant he finds a better situation — something I feel Cousins needs before we can label him a lost cause.

      • limonadamas - Dec 11, 2012 at 7:11 PM

        @DJ Foster: I would argue that being selected for the US Olympic Select team would qualify as a “better situation” than being on the Kings. Cousins didn’t handle that honor very well either. He’s definitely wired a little differently, but there have been warning signs from before college about his explosive temper. Unless he learns how to corral those emotions in a productive way, the prognosis isn’t great.

  5. glink123 - Dec 11, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    “occasionally misguided”?? riiiight. so was Hitler.

    • ljl2 - Dec 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      well those things are almost the same…

    • kanemoney - Dec 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      You just won the ‘wtf was he thinking’ post of the day.

  6. hollywood26 - Dec 11, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    It seems to me that if ANYONE should know it would be Mayo. He’s seen that path because he was on it so he’s speaking truth to power. Notice he continually mentions how talented and dominant Cousins should be. He’s basically saying he’s wasting his talent unless he gets his mind right and I agree.

  7. darrkkomens - Dec 11, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    D.J., you are a flat out moron on this… What are you Cousin’s … cousin or something.. how the hell could you attempt to defend him even a little bit.. your journalism credentials should be taken from you…. Everything OJ said was correct.. Cousin’s have serious mental issues and doesn’t listen to anyone..

  8. borderline1988 - Dec 11, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    For Cousins to have a chance, he needs to be on a team with a strong coach and some real veterans. He cannot be on a team where he is the most talented player and players are looking to him for guidance. It just won’t work.

    He is a bonehead, but so was Zach Randolph early in his career. Randolph was on the jailblazers, and that contributed to his immaturity. But Randolph had the talent, and he could really play. Once he was in a more stable situation, the antics stopped. Randolph still isn’t the brightest guy around, especially with regards to maturity, but he’s learned to let his game do the talking.

    The Kings should just trade Cousins…he likely still has good value on the trade market. Cousins will never succeed on this Kings team.

  9. louhudson23 - Dec 11, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    Cousins is an immature young man who has so far failed to display even a minimal understanding of how and why he is constantly finding himself in the situations that he does. This will remain true up until it is no longer true. If he never does,then he never was. Attempting to explain away or minimize his actions does him absolutely no good. Perhaps pointing out to him the example(so far) set by Mayo and many others for whom the switch seemingly flipped would be of some use,as well pointing out those who failed to achieve some sense of realistic self awareness and suffered for it. Both lists are long. Cousins has so far found his name on only one of those lists.

  10. trybe29dr - Dec 11, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    I cant believe the writer is actually comparing Mayo’s high school and college antics to what Cousins is still doing in his 3rd season in the league.

    • D.J. Foster - Dec 11, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      And the fight with Allen, the drug suspension, the complaints about his role on a winning team less than a year ago that I outlined in the following sentences…there were plenty of very recent “maturity issues” with Mayo. It seems like he’s throwing stones from a glass house a bit.

  11. raidmagic - Dec 11, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Are you really bashing Mayo for being immature in high school? Can you tell me who isn’t immature in high school?

  12. kobeisking - Dec 11, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Unfortunately, I live in Sacramento…Cousins is a Turd.

  13. brutl - Dec 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    Great article DJ! I’m so sick of all the articles skinning the kid alive. I blame them for all of these brainwashed comments, too. Leave the judging to god. You will all be cheering him in a few years!!

  14. bleedtwincitiessports - Dec 11, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Cousins Most definitely has a mental problem! In his first NBA game (against the Twolves) I had seats next to the entrance where players walk, after the game when Cousins was walking by me, I booed him until he heard me, he then turned around and throw his towel as hard as he could in my face! His first game and that’s how he acts? What a head case! Well, I did boo him cause he didn’t want to play for MN, and I knew he was a crazy, so I wanted to see how he responded to a fan booing… He failed!

  15. rickeye9 - Dec 11, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    I agree with the guy saying OJ has the right to talk because he has been through a similar path and he is starting to understand how to be a dominant player at times by being more mature and so on. Also, Mayo didn’t say one word that wasn’t true.

  16. jordanismyidol - Dec 11, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Tryb29dr wrote:

    “I cant believe the writer is actually comparing Mayo’s high school and college antics to what Cousins is still doing in his 3rd season in the league.”

    - dead on. Exactly what i was gna say

  17. edwardemanuelson - Dec 11, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    There is one NBA team that can clean this guy up…and they play in Texas. Hint: it ain’t the Mavs or Rockets.

    Think about it.

  18. londonps - Dec 11, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    Ok threw the ball because it was his last high school game I think

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