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NBA grind produces a reunion

The Kings' DeMarcus Cousins, with ball, reunites with the Clippers' Eric Bledsoe, right, and the Wizards' John Wall in Los Angeles.
The Kings' DeMarcus Cousins, with ball, reunites with the Clippers' Eric Bledsoe, right, and the Wizards' John Wall in Los Angeles. (Jae C. Hong)
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By Michael Lee
Thursday, December 9, 2010

LOS ANGELES - Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins furrowed his brow and offered a quizzical look when asked this week if he was looking forward to his first career matchup against John Wall.

"John, who?" Cousins asked.

John Wall? The No. 1 overall pick? Your former teammate at Kentucky?

"I don't know who that is," Cousins said with a grin, before finally acknowledging that he might have heard of the guy.

Cousins knew that his friends Wall and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe were waiting for him outside the visitors' locker room at Staples Center on Monday. He had just lost to Bledsoe for the second time this season, and for the umpteenth time in his life, having never beaten him in high school in Alabama, either. "I could never beat him and I hate it," Cousins said about Bledsoe.

Cousins already knew what to expect when he walked out the door. "Trash talk will happen when I get outside," said Cousins, the fifth pick in last June's draft.

For the next 30 minutes, the three players who had bonded in their one year together in Lexington caught up during an in-season reunion that was aided by the NBA schedule-makers, allowing Wall to watch his former teammates duel the night before he faced the Lakers.

"I had to grab a ticket to see both of them play on the same court at the same time. We all reached our NBA dreams, it was great," Wall said.

After dominating college basketball for most of their lone season together at Kentucky, this has been a difficult year for Cousins, Wall and Bledsoe. In leading the Wildcats to the round of eight in the NCAA tournament, the trio lost just three games.

But the adjustment has been much harder in the NBA. All three are starters for teams that appear destined for another draft lottery appearance. Already this season, the Wizards have 14 losses, the Kings have 15 and the Clippers have 17. "It's tough, but coming into this, we knew, if you get drafted pretty high, most teams had a downfall the year before. Main thing you do is try to help them out, but you can't do it by yourself. You know what I mean? It's a learning experience that we're going through, but I think we're dealing with it pretty well," Bledsoe said.

Frustrations have already led to Cousins being fined and kicked out of a practice this season. Losing like never before is teaching him to be more patient. "Patience is a big thing. Lean on your teammates, just keep believing," Cousins said. "It's tough, man. It's the NBA. It's a lot that goes on."

A sprained ankle kept Wall from playing against Cousins on Wednesday, but he will see his former college roommate again on Jan. 11. He won't play Bledsoe until March 12. He said the time they shared on Monday was similar to times they spent joking on the team plane or in practice at Kentucky. "It was like family all over again. Like two brothers from another mother," he said. "You seen us out there, for about 20, 30 minutes, just joking around, having a good time and bringing up old memories. As much time as you can to be around each other, we do it. We enjoying the season, hope that we all do well. Then in the summer time, we'll hook up again."

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