‘Fun-loving’ Cousins takes phone calls in stride


University of Kentucky freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins jokes with teammates during the first half of UK’s 93-63 win over Rider on Nov., 21, 2009 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Ed Matthews

Can you hear me now?

With the number of phone calls UK freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins received the last couple days, one might mistake him for being in a phone commercial testing his service. Many of the calls haven’t been very friendly, though.

“It started like right after the (Tennessee) game,” Cousins said. “I got called some N-word … It kind of made me mad in the beginning, but now I’m like answering the phone holding a conversation with them.”

Following UK’s (24-1, 9-1 Southeastern Conference) game against Tennessee on Feb. 13, some Mississippi State students, Cousins believes, got a hold of his phone number.

Cousins said he probably got 100 phone calls after the game and close to 1,000 text messages. Thankfully, he has unlimited text messages, he said.

“Some were racial, and others were girls like, ‘Let’s make out,’ ” Cousins said. “I don’t know what to expect from Starkville.”

Cousins has been the focus of attention for the student section in nearly every road game. In Gainesville, Fla., for the Cats’ matchup against the Gators on Jan. 12, fans put eye black over their eyes and a sign saying that Cousins had elbowed them as well.

The costume and sign being in reference to UK’s game against Louisville on Jan. 2 where Cousins caught Louisville forward Jared Swopshire with an elbow.

Against South Carolina, the “Garnet Army,” as the student section is known, screamed at Cousins for almost the entire game to try to get in his head, and accused him of hitting a student upon leaving the court.

Cousins said this wasn’t the first time people have gotten ahold of his phone number, but it has never been this bad.

“They’re just showing their ignorance,” Cousins said about the racial slurs.

Part of the reason for Cousins being singled out is his emotional state on the court. Whether it’s toward officials or opposing players, Cousins wearing his emotions on his sleeve has been well documented.

But while his on court demeanor may rub some the wrong way, his off-the-court, goof-around, say-and-wear-what-comes-to-mind stature is loved by the fans.

His patent “Peter Parker swag” after the games is beginning to be mimicked, for which Cousins calls himself a “trendsetter.” His coach loves it, too.

“He’s a fun-loving kid,” UK head coach John Calipari said.

Before the Tennessee game, Cousins wore a headband with his nickname “Boogie” on the front. The equipment manager at UK came up with the headband, but the officials asked him to remove it before tipoff. Cousins said he will continue trying to wear it during the game, joking that by wearing the headband, perhaps inside out, it might help the officials realize when he’s being hit.

“They check (the monitor) for everything else,” Cousins said.

“If they see my name turned around they’ll know I got fouled.”

On Tuesday, when Cousins and the Cats travel down to Starkville, Miss., to face Mississippi State, he will be going up against the SEC’s leading shot blocker and rebounder in senior forward Jarvis Varnado.

Cousins said he might slow down a little bit against Varnado, but mostly “just play ball.”

In addition to not changing his style of play much, Cousins also said he wouldn’t be changing his phone number until after the game.

“I want to see what they have to say.”