Two college teammates reunited Monday and enjoyed a taste of Washington D.C. nightlife. One has lived in the region for seven years and loves it here. The other has made his home in Sacramento for the same amount of time and chose loyalty to his adopted city despite the swirling dysfunction at his workplace.
In many ways, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are like any other pair of good friends. They text constantly. Laugh at the same silly jokes from when they were teenagers. Talk trash whenever they’re pit against each other. However one thing makes these friends different than most: Wall and Cousins are two NBA superstars on fledgling franchises and yet hold the hopes of entire fan bases with their shared goal of one day playing on the same team.
“We talk about it all the time,” Wall said with a smile, after his Wizards defeated Cousins and the Sacramento Kings in overtime, 101-95.
Hours before the two went to dinner together, Cousins, playing coy while in a perky mood, expressed similar thoughts.
“[Do we] talk about playing with one another? Is that your question?” Cousins asked a reporter, then grinning big just like Wall, “It’s come up.”
Wall and Cousins, former Kentucky teammates and current all-stars, together again? It’s a delicious fantasy harbored by long suffering fan bases on both coasts. For now, it remains just that — a fantasy.
Cousins, a 6-11 forward/center, still has two years remaining on his contract, while Wall will remain with Washington until at least the 2018-19 season.
Cousins turned 26 years old in August and Wall reached the same milestone a month later, which is only to point out that both are playing in their primes now. And they’re doing so while leading franchises, that by the looks of Monday night’s affair, will remain insignificant in 2016-17 conference playoff races.
Also, before the #Boogie2DC bandwagon fires up, understand that, although the players talk about reuniting, neither buddy, along with another 2009-10 UK teammate Eric Bledsoe, wants to bend.
“They’re going to all come to Sac,” Cousins playfully proclaimed. “Come to Sac!”
And how does Wall react when Cousins pitches Sacramento?
“[Wall] wants me [in D.C.],” Cousins said. “Eric want us in Phoenix.
“Play with John and Eric again,” Cousins contemplated, “you never know what will happen. It’s the NBA, so hopefully one day he’ll be in a Sacramento uniform.”
Cousins, for all the baggage of bad attitude that follows him, can be a big teddy bear. During summers, he holds his elite Nike basketball camps in inner city Sacramento. Two hundred kids all attending for free. And last season when a local high school football player was killed, Cousins quietly offered to pay for the funeral.
Also, Cousins’s generosity has extended to the Kings — he agreed to an extension in spite of the team’s penchant for not keeping a coach on for more than two seasons and never winning more than 33 games during his seven years.
As for Wall, in spite of the Wizards never having advanced beyond the second round during his tenure, he professes public love for the team and city. Wall’s deceased father, whom he adores, had Washington roots. Also, Wall is just as active within the District community as Cousins is in his. Naturally, Wall wants Cousins in a red-white-and-blue uniform.
“Just trying to figure out what’s going to happen, you know what I mean?” Wall said. “[Cousins] loves where he’s at and I love where I’m at, so whatever we feel like gives us the best opportunity to win — I know what our [team] is here and what I want to do here. And it’s something I keep in my mind.”
During Monday night’s monotony, when two struggling teams faced off, at least the two fan bases could delight in what could be. On Twitter, a Kings fan started a hashtag #BuildThatWall. Inside the Verizon Center, when the Wizards made their first trip to the foul line, someone broke the silence: “Boogie come to DC! We need ya!”
Cousins finished with a monster line of 36 points and 20 rebounds, and though Wall committed 11 turnovers to go with 11 assists and 19 points, the two provided plenty of moments for the dreamers. One sequence in the second quarter tickled the imagination. Wall ran a clinical fast break, shunning lightning speed to survey the court then suddenly serving a two-handed dish to a cutting Kelly Oubre Jr. for the dunk. On the next play, Cousins caught the ball with one foot in the paint and Washington center Marcin Gortat on his back. It didn’t matter. Cousins dribbled once, then with a shoulder move created just enough distance to hit the 6-foot fadeaway while getting fouled.
So, yeah. Just picture Wall and Cousins doing this for the same team. The two college buddies sure have.
“We’re trying to figure it out now,” Wall said, “and hopefully things work out in the best manner and figure something out.”