Grading the Week: DeMarcus Cousins, we’re finally ready to forgive you

One storyline we didn’t see coming back in October: DeMarcus Cousins, sage Nuggets veteran.

Not too long ago, the man they call Boogie was an object of scorn inside the Grading the Week offices — a bitter rival who once unjustly clowned Nikola Jokic after his Golden State Warriors ran the Joker’s Nuggets off the court in April 2019.

But time heals all wounds, it seems. Especially when your team desperately needs a capable big man off the bench.

DeMarcus Cousins — A

For those who don’t remember the incident in question, let’s go back to April 2, 2019, at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors were cruising to a 116-102 blowout victory when Cousins was pulled from the game after posting 28 points and 13 rebounds opposite a then-24-year-old Jokic. As he neared the Golden State bench, Boogie turned around and elaborately pantomimed someone scanning the horizon, one hand over both eyes to block out the metaphorical sun.

The obvious message: “Where’s Nikola?

It wasn’t just the blatant disrespect Cousins showed our favorite Serbian son that left the Grading the Week staff screaming at the television. It was the front-runner Kobra Kai undertones that surrounded his mocking mimicry.

At that point in his career Cousins was a gratuitous fifth star on arguably the most talented team in NBA history. He was flanked by three of the greatest shooters the game has ever seen: Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Yet there he was making a show of humiliating the Joker. Our Joker. On national TV.

We didn’t think we’d ever forgive Boogie for that stunt, even after Denver signed him to the first of two 10-day contracts in January. (In fact, we might’ve been the last holdouts.)

But here we are, three long years later, and Cousins is the backup big man this year’s Nuggets desperately needed, as well as a strong veteran voice holding others accountable behind the scenes. The numbers haven’t been spectacular (6.1 points, 6.3 rebounds on 29.4% shooting over two 10-day contracts), but the quotes coming from Nuggets players and coaches have been.

While some of that was to be expected from coach Michael Malone — Cousins’ former coach in Sacramento and a charter member of the Boogie Fan Club — it was surprising to see Jokic declare “he proved me wrong” a few weeks ago.

That the Nuggets front office backed that up on Friday with a contract that keeps Cousins in Denver for the remainder of the season only confirms what we’re finally ready to accept:

Boogie’s Mile High redemption is real, and we’re here for it.

Rockies — Absent

In a world without greed, the Rockies would be playing their first spring training game Saturday at Salt Rivers Fields.

Instead, we’re entering the 87th day of the Major League Baseball lockout as franchise owners and players squabble over how to divvy up billions of dollars in revenue, with the prospect of many more MLB-free days to come.

There is a platitude popularized by Alexander Pope that often pops up this time of year: “Hope springs eternal.” But another quotation, this one from Dante, feels a bit more appropriate: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

That not only fits MLB’s current labor landscape but also the 2022 Rockies season — if we ever get one.

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