Nonetheless, with Harden’s criticisms now public knowledge after Tuesday’s postgame tantrum, Cousins clearly felt the need to respond as Houston prepares for life without its perennial All-Star and MVP finalist.
After Cousins chose to sign with Houston in November, he and the rest of the Rockets went through a tense training camp — with Harden choosing to party in Atlanta and Las Vegas at the start of camp, all while his teammates practiced in Houston. Harden had asked the team to trade him in the offseason, but with “The Beard” under contract for at least two more seasons, the team was under no obligation to immediately grant it.
On Wednesday, here’s what Cousins had to say about the matter:
Obviously, it’s disrespectful, but everybody has a right to their opinion. We feel some type of way about some of his actions.
I don’t feel betrayed. My interest was playing with John Wall, to be perfectly honest. … The disrespect [from Harden] started way before any interview. Just his approach the training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court. The disrespect started way before. This isn’t something that all of a sudden happened last night. …
The other 14 guys in the locker room have done nothing to him. For us to be on the receiving end of disrespectful comments and antics… it’s completely unfair to the rest of the guys in the locker room.
#Rockets Demarcus Cousins on the Harden situation & public comments last night, if he feels betrayed after signing here. “I don’t feel betrayed at all, my interest (in signing here) was playing with John Wall to be brutally honest.” (More in video below). @SportsTalk790 pic.twitter.com/cBNGbcj7ML
— Adam Wexler (@AdamJWexler) January 13, 2021
Cousins collected 13 points and 10 rebounds in just 18 minutes during Tuesday’s blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, and the 30-year-old big man could become a more significant part of Houston’s offense in the inevitable weeks and months ahead, without Harden.
While Cousins has had a limited role in 2020-21 as he works his way back from three serious leg injuries, his words carry weight as a four-time NBA All-Star. On Wednesday, Cousins used that platform to make quite a statement about Harden, even before his official departure.
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DeMarcus Cousins: «The disrespect [from James Harden] started way before any interview. Just his approach the training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court. The disrespect started way before. This isn’t something that all of a sudden happened last night.» pic.twitter.com/5CaQ2Ii8Iq
— Salman Ali (@SalmanAliNBA) January 13, 2021