Ohm YoungmisukESPN Staff WriterClose
- Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
Follow him on Twitter » Ohm’s chat archive »
Making his much-anticipated return to the basketball court nearly a year after tearing his left Achilles tendon, Cousins impressed with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers before fouling out in 15 minutes in the Golden State Warriors‘ 112-94 rout of the LA Clippers at Staples Center.
“Felt like a kid on Christmas,” Cousins said. “It’s been a long journey. This is probably one of the best days of my life.”
Cousins made 5 of 11 shots but was a plus-21 when on the court. He was booed the first time he touched the ball at the start of the game but left to a rousing ovation from the Warriors fans who remained at Staples Center when he fouled out with 8 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
“Man, probably the fakest love I’ve ever received in my life. I’m just going to keep it a million,” Cousins said, laughing. “I honestly don’t see how guys like Steph and Klay do it on the daily, where there are cameras around them all day. I don’t like it, at all. So hopefully this is the last day of this.”
Of course, Cousins’ addition to a dynastic team going for a three-peat brings only more attention, especially if he continues to play as well as he did Friday night. Despite saying he was so out of rhythm that it felt like he was going to trip over himself every time he went to make a move, Cousins announced his return with a thunderous one-handed dunk down the lane for the Warriors’ first basket of the game.
Cousins scowled and walked back down the court full of the swagger that made him a four-time All-Star.
“I’m just glad to know that I can still dunk,” Cousins said. “It felt good. I never in a million years thought that would be my first basket playing ball again.”
And while he had difficulty adjusting to the way the game was being officiated, Cousins displayed the perimeter shooting he can add to the Warriors from the big man position.
He buried 3 of 4 3-pointers, including back-to-back triples at the start of the fourth quarter shortly before fouling out.
“He was great tonight,” said teammate Kevin Durant, who had 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists. “I like that he gonna keep people on us at the 3-point line. I like that he was running the floor, he set a screen. I mean he just played his game — 15 minutes, he had 14 and 6. You turn that to 25 minutes, that’s an easy 20 and 10. I like where he’s going, good first step, and hopefully he keeps moving forward.”
Asked if he was surprised by Cousins’ debut, Durant said, “Nah. I’m surprised he didn’t have 20 points.”
Cousins said he was thrilled to be left wide open on his 3-point attempts, a luxury he didn’t have while in Sacramento.
“Yeah, man, I wonder what the scouting report is on me right now,” Cousins said, with a shrug. “I mean, I can shoot.”
While Cousins said he still has to regain his rhythm, he didn’t lose an ounce of the fiery emotion that has also been his trademark.
Asked about the Clippers playing him physically and perhaps baiting him, Cousins asked, “Who’s being physical?”
“Man, y’all lucky this is my first day back,” Cousins said. “I will tell you how I really feel about buddy, but I’m gonna be cool and stay on this straight line right now. Wait until I get in midseason form.”
No matter what happened on this night, Cousins said a text message he received before the game put everything in perspective for him.
“My girl sent me this picture,” Cousins said. “It was like the day I had my surgery, [and] I was sitting in a wheelchair in L.A., staring out at the sunset.
“She said, ‘Think about where you are now. And where you came from.'”