For the first time since being traded from the Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans last season, DeMarcus Cousins is back in Sacramento to face his former team at the Golden 1 Center Thursday night.
In February, the Kings and General Manager Vlade Divac ended the organization’s often controversial six-and-a-half-year relationship with the All-Star center by trading him during the All-Star break.
“It’s been emotional the past two days,” Cousins said in February after the trade. “It’s been hard to gather myself because everything happened so fast, but I’m excited.
“I was shocked when I heard it,” Cousins added at the time. “It was like I just woke up from a dream, it didn’t seem real.”
On Thursday night, it will undoubtedly be an emotional scene in front of a city Cousins grew close with on and off the court. After Cousins was traded from Sacramento, there were some hard feelings as he says he felt betrayed by the organization.
In preparation for his return to the Golden 1 Center, the center initially sat down with ESPN for a wide-ranging interview where he also said he was a "fool" for staying with the Kings as long as he did. Cousins offered clarification on those comments Wednesday after practice at Sacramento's facilities.
“I got nothing but love for this city," Cousins said. "I came here as a kid and grew into a man. I’ve built a lot of relationships and gained a lot of friends. I got people here I call family. Nothing against the city, the fans, or anything like that. That was more on a professional point of view, doing what was best for me. I felt that was one of my regrets.”
Cousins has long been one of the most animated players on the court since he was drafted by the Kings with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. With that in mind, the center discussed the emotions he's been going through before Thursday's nationally-televised game.
“It’s kind of a weird feeling, just coming in the way I did,” Cousins said. “I was so used to coming in a certain type of way, but it’s a weird feeling.”
As for the reaction he expects from the Sacramento crowd during the game, Cousins is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“I honestly don’t know,” Cousins said. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow, I really don’t know.”