Through the years, DeMarcus Cousins has made life miserable for Plumlee. Last Friday was no different.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
In preparing to write this column, I fired up the ol’ search engine and pounded out “DeMarcus Cousins Mason Plumlee.” Through that bad boy, I hoped to easily find video of a dunk from their recent matchup posted on Twitter or some such shareable, NBA-licensed web-streaming format. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it, but I did find something else: a veritable treasure trove of clips in which Boogie humiliates Plumlee.
The great ones all have their pissing matches, their hefty boy brawls, their ongoing run-ins with bullshit journeymen. Recall LeBron James’ never-ending feud with DeShawn Stevenson, Michael Jordan taking Gerald Wilkins' “Jordan Stopper” reputation WAY too seriously, or Jason Collins blandly single-covering the shit out of Dwight Howard during the Atlanta Hawks’ upset win over the Magic in 2011. What is the Chamberlain–Russell rivalry, if not a decade-long battle of a crafty role player demolishing a gold-plated megastar over and over?
For DeMarcus Cousins, a prestigious center with many wonderful qualities and the non-stop curse of constantly being on teams playing under the stewardship heinous organizations, his scrub rival occasionally seems like “Whoever.” He is a man of unchecked passions against refs, journalists, coaches, and, on rarer than assumed occasions, other players.
But there is no one on the court DeMarcus feels inspired to take it to more than Mason Plumlee, seen here getting kicked in the nuts. Only God knows why. Maybe Cousins just naturally loathes Duken energies. Maybe he was befuddled and irritated by Coach K slotting the Plumlord above him in the 2014 USMNT rotation. Or maybe he just finds that square head befuddling and irritating, an upsetting reminder that the line between man and machine is, truly, razor thin. Maybe it goes back EVEN further, all the way back to high school, where Plumlee and Cousins, both top nationally rated prospects, squared off in gyms across the county. Whatever DeMarcus's motivations, the internet is, for some reason, filled to the top with videos of him squaring down against Plumlee.
In the NBA, Boogie has, throughout the years, managed a Mean Dunk on Plumlee, crossed Mason over and threw one up in his face, drove and banged on Plumlee and yet another defender. DeMarcus scored 55 points playing against Plumlee and Meyers Leonard, another big white fella DMC has some history with, then gave a spectacular postgame interview where he disparaged NBA refs in aggregate and denigrated his evening’s matchup to anyone who would listen. Plumlee, for his part, has managed to get one or two in on DMC himself, and managed to get him ejected with a well-timed flop earlier this month.
And so, I am pleased, even thrilled to tell you, the readership, that another chapter has been written in this glorious saga, the never-ending feud, forged in fire and blood, between DeMarcus and Plumlee.
Here is DeMarcus, sporting a bright-red, ho-ho-ho uniform, catching the ball above the three-point line. He sees his old rival—wearing now the uniform of the Nuggets, but sporting forever the spirit of Duke—meet to contest a shot. Boogie, who each year has managed to pick up practically every offensive trait an NBA player could possibly have, be it slippery, danceable low-post play, three-point shooting, dribbling, or high-post passing, meets this challenge by unleashing a big, loopy drive.
Plumlee, nothing if not true to the role he was forged to play in this basketball romance, flails his arms and exaggerates a bit of light forearm contact DeMarcus gives him on the drive. His gambit fails, and he recovers and sprints to catch up with DeMarcus, who has taken the opportunity to breeze right past his spiritual and practical opposite with one behind-the-back dribble. Plumlee, who sincerely stumbles, now finds himself under and behind DeMarcus as he rises up and flushes a big two-hander over him and Trey Lyles, who has rotated over and provides an ineffectual swipe at the most guaranteed two points imaginable.
It has all the hallmarks of a classic DMC–Mason showdown. We see, in no uncertain terms, that there is quite simply no practical advantage that Plumlee can possibly hold over Cousins, who is bigger, faster, more skilled, and more competitive—an inherently superior talent, soup to nuts. Plumlee tried to flex the one advantage that he, and, in fact, nearly the entire league has over DeMarcus, which is that is he universally loathed by refs, all refs, at all levels of competition. DeMarcus ends up on top, as dictated by the laws of science, nature, and God, but for unrelated reasons his squad loses, Mason’s wins, and the incidents of their encounter get carved deeper and deeper into the wood of their shared history—Mason the negative image shadow of DeMarcus’s greatness, still visible, but fading away as Boogie’s light gets brighter and brighter.
Someday, Plumlee will be remembered only as a large head, DeMarcus as an NBA great, but a trace of their mutual enmity will frame him, ever so slightly.