Thirty-one and twenty.
There are some things in this $5 billion enterprise known as the NBA that are complicated and nearly inexplicable: The formula for the “repeater” luxury tax, for instance, or Vinny Del Negro‘s magic touch with the Los Angeles Clippers. And then there are some things that are elemental, as simple as can be.
Like thirty-one and twenty.
Grammarians might contend that anything linked via an “and” technically counts as two things. Style police might demand the numerals, 31 and 20, rather than the words. But NBA fans can cut through all that to the essence of what it meant when Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins scored his season high in points and matched his career high in rebounds in a victory Friday at Toronto.
Thirty-one and twenty means that Cousins will continue to get his way.
Thirty-one and twenty makes all the headaches worth it, when coping with and waiting for the third-year big man from Kentucky to grow emotionally and intellectually into his broad, formidable, 6-foot-11, 270-pound body.
Thirty-one and twenty buys more time and tolerance for forced 19-foot jump shots and cranky postgame chats with opposing teams’ broadcasters.
Thirty-one and twenty keeps other teams open, even eager, to consider trade possibilities, regardless of Cousins’ past deeds, current demeanor or future detours.
Admittedly, it came against the Toronto Raptors, which is like the giant’s “fe-fi-fo-fum” coming against Jack of magic-bean fame. Already underbulked if not undersized, the Raptors were without Jonas Valanciunas and Andrea Bargnani and ran the likes of Aaron Gray, Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and Quincy Acy at Cousins. From Cathal Kelly‘s account in the Toronto Star, it might as well have been the Maple Leafs against the Navy SEALS.
“He was getting everything he wanted,” Davis conceded.
The only Raptor who gave Cousins a run was relative pipsqueak Alan Anderson – and all of that was with his mouth. Cousins and Anderson took matching technicals early, and looked perilously close to a fist fight once things got out of hand.
Cousins wreaked much of his havoc after halftime, scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the third quarter. That’s the period Sacramento won 28-10.
It came on the road, where the Kings have won two in a row after a 1-13 start. It left Cousins at 19.4 points, 14.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.0 steals in the five games since he returned from a two-game team suspension.
And it reminded all of us, for good and for bad, why Cousins figures to get catered to and courted for a while longer. Some day, maybe, eventually, he’ll get it and start racking up all-NBA selections and victories. In the meantime, some tantalized by his talent will simply get theirs, lured by the thirty-one and twenty, stung by the rest.