DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo: A True Love Story
As the New Orleans Pelicans march towards their most important season in franchise history, many questions remain. One of the biggest questions revolves around newly signed point guard Rajon Rondo. Pelicans star forward DeMarcus Cousins was reportedly heavily involved in what went as a pretty quiet signing. Their relationship and influence on each other and the rest of the team will be one of many things to watch this season. The last time the duo were together things went better than predicted but ultimately ended with missing the playoffs. This time around, there’s hope that the two can put the finishing touches on what can be a beautiful story.
You never really know what’s meant for you in life until it’s in front of you.
We all have ideas and thoughts, but some of the best fits can’t be explained or planned. For the New Orleans Pelicans’ DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo, this narrative couldn’t be any truer. One is perceived as a loose cannon, the other too smart for his own good and uncoachable. Though different in stature, the two are very similar in personality, which ended up bringing them together just two short years ago.
Like some love stories, however, these two met at an uncomfortable time.
Before joining Sacramento in 2015, the image of Rajon Rondo had drastically changed. As once arguably the NBA’s second best floor general, Rondo’s character was in question after a failed experiment with the Dallas Mavericks. His on court wizardry and leadership was over shadowed by on court and locker room disputes. At a crossroads, and no longer looked at as a missing piece to a championship team, he joined the Kings on a one-year, $9.5 million deal.
The questions about Rondo getting along with then coach George Karl and Cousins were immediately discussed. That all wasn’t on Rondo, Cousins was just as much the wildcard. Cousins had only made an all star team once and he hadn’t seen an example of winning in the NBA until Rondo joined. Known more for his outbursts with the media, his on court temper, and clashing with coaches. There were serious concerns about Cousins never reaching his potential.
As a basketball talent, there was no doubt the player Boogie was. At crossroads in their careers, seen as coaching nightmares, and players who were unfit for winning situations, they were brought together.
Relationships at the right time can thrive off of similarities. A couple feeling misunderstood or unheard can bond immensely off of a feeling of belonging.
That’s exactly what took place with Cousins and Rondo.
DeMarcus never played with anybody as passionate or as smart as Rondo. More importantly, he respected him. They were exactly what each other needed.
“The way we compete and the type of competitors we are, it’s hard for us not to get along. We damn near think alike all the time. I’m soaking in all I can. He’s a champion. I basically look up to him” Cousins said about Rondo
Cousins knew that his new teammate was looked at the same way he was.
A villain, an oddball.
The difference was, Rondo wasn’t afraid to hold a mirror up to DeMarcus Cousins, in turn learning a lot about himself. Rondo brought a winning attitude, and unlike most, wasn’t afraid of Boogie in any way.
One way being physical.
From KG and Doc Rivers to Rick Carlisle, and most notably Ray Allen, Rondo has had his fair share of friction. Just like Boogie though, they always respected him. Rondo for the first time in his career had to humble himself. Cousins, who had seen promising situations leave before, was all in on Rondo. He was willing to work through his issues with George Karl and buy in as he knew this opportunity would make him a better player.
Rondo secretly admired Boogie and knew all he needed was a little direction. And Boogie knew he gave Rondo the opportunity to prove himself all over again. What once may have looked like two pit bulls colliding, turned into the perfect match. Rondo reclaimed his title as the league leader in assists, and Cousins made it to his second all star game.
Though the team battled through injury and had its moments, they weren’t able to be a playoff team. However, Rondo easily made an impact on his star big man’s already developed game. Passing and long range shooting were two things Rondo preached to Boogie in regards to improvement. Not only did Cousins improve but he posted career best numbers the following year.
Cousins averaged a career high in assists (4.3) and a career high in 3 point percentage (36.5) in easily his best season as a pro last year. He also became a better teammate. That transition started with Rondo and was apparent as Cousins was not happy when Rondo wasn’t re-signed.
“I mean it sucks. Me and Rondo really grew a great bond. He became a big brother to me. I learned a lot from him.” Cousins said after Rondo’s departure.
There’s a firm belief if not for coach turmoil and an inconsistent supporting cast, Rajon would have returned for a second season. Instead, Cousins and Rondo parted ways with hopes of maybe one-day rekindling their on court relationship. There’s a saying that goes: “If you love something let it go. If it comes back, it’s meant to be.” Two years later DeMarcus was a New Orleans Pelican and heavily involved in the recruiting process.
It just so happens the Pels needed a guard, among other things in which could be the most critical offseason in the team’s history.
After an up and down season for Rondo with the Chicago Bulls, he became a free agent again. After serious interest from the Los Angeles Lakers, Rondo decided to join Cousins once again. This time in New Orleans, on a team who’s hungry, desperate, and dedicated to proving the NBA wrong.
There may not have been another player Rondo would listen to when it comes recruiting. There also may not be another player (well outside of Melo) DeMarcus Cousins would ever recruit. However, the two are here, reunited, and both deeply focused on winning. The hope is that Boogie and Rondo continue to bring the best out of each other.
Rondo has always been able to know his team’s strengths and weaknesses, his basketball IQ alone is an upgrade. Throw in playing with the most talented team he’s been on since Boston and things are more promising than they may appear.
From Alvin Gentry to Anthony Davis, every leader on the Pelicans have endorsed Rondo’s addition. In the end, Boogie and Rondo’s relationship will have huge implications on the success of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Success, that would make this love story end happily ever after.