The Golden State Warriors forward says he’s been called the N-word by fans at games.
The NBA has had several incidents this season where fans overstepped their boundaries and players are responding in real time.
Russell Westbrook was fined $25,000 for an exchange he had with a Utah Jazz fan, who was ultimately banned for life for racist comments he directed at Westbrook. Last week, Detroit Pistons star, Blake Griffin had to deal with a fan calling him “boy”.
Fans shouting obscenities and taunting players is nothing new. The Malice At The Palace was the tipping point, but fans continue to take liberties and cross the line with players.
“Oh, I’ve been called n—–,” he told Haynes. “And it’s crazy because this has happened to me on a few occasions. I reported it to the league, and, you know, I may have said whatever I said back and I was still punished for it. But obviously it became a bigger issue when it was Russ, and he was still fined for it. I don’t really understand it. We’re the product. We push this league, so I don’t understand. When does our safety, when does it become important?”
Cousins added that he did not want to mention what cities he has been called the racial slur and told Haynes, “I’m not really trying to put a label on an entire fanbase. There are ignorant individuals in every city. I’ll just put it like that.”
The interview was a segment from the Posted Up video podcast that will be released later in the week. The NBA is known as the most inclusive and player-friendly league. LeBron James often props up the NBA’s social progressiveness and disparages the NFL as a league that basically treats its players as high-priced cattle and doesn’t allow them the freedom to speak out against social issues.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he takes great pride in the fact the League supports its players’ beliefs and community efforts, rather than try and squash them as the NFL did with Colin Kaepernick when he knelt to bring attention to police brutality and social injustices in the country.
Too bad some of the fans are still stuck in a time warp and can’t find more modern ways to express their enthusiasm at a game. No sport is safe from it. Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones had peanuts and the N-word slung at him by classless Boston Red Sox fans in 2017. Some would say that’s to be expected in a league where African-Americans comprise just below 8 percent of the rosters. The NBA, however, is supposed to be a safe zone when it comes to that kind of bigoted language.
That’s why some folks will act surprised that Cousins so nonchalantly offered this nugget. Commissioner Silver won’t like it one bit. It’s a bad look. At the same time, Cousins’ refusal to be more specific reflects the NBA’s unified front when it comes to protecting the image of the league.