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Through a handful of phone calls, DeMarcus Cousins received a blueprint on how to overcome the biggest challenge of his nine-year NBA career.
Well before he could even begin his rehab, Cousins contacted one of the NBA’s best dunkers (former Atlanta Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins), one of the league’s best scorers (former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant), a former teammate (San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay) and a dependable NBA role player (Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Mathews). Shortly after the Warriors signed Cousins to a one-year $5.3 million deal last July with their mid-level taxpayer exception, Cousins spoke with the Warriors’ other free agent acquisition (Jonas Jerebko).
Cousins did not talk to them so he could vent. He talked to them so he could learn how to better heal a left Achilles tendon he injured on Jan. 27, 2018 with the New Orleans Pelicans.
“I wasn’t really looking for a specific answer to get through it,” Cousins said. “I wanted to see what each guy’s mindset was and compare it to my own.”
Each players’ journey has been different. They mostly stressed similar messages, though.
While Wilkins advised Cousins “not to listen to the critics,” Gay instructed Cousins, “don’t feel sorry for yourself.” A few months following Cousins’ surgery on Jan. 31, 2018, Mathews told him “to take his time.” Shortly after the two became teammates last summer, Jerebko argued the same thing.
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“We’re going to need you, but when we need you is when we’re talking playoffs’” Jerebko recalled saying. “‘We’re going to need you in the long run. So don’t stress anything or push yourself too hard. Let it come.’”
Cousins does not have to wait too much longer. Cousins has targeted his return for next Thursday against the Clippers in Los Angeles, giving the Warriors (28-14) only three more games in Dallas (Sunday) and Denver (Tuesday) and then against New Orleans at Oracle Arena (Wednesday) before likely welcoming their fifth All-Star.
During a year that he called “extremely humbling,” Cousins attributed his comeback toward staying stubborn and leaning on his family for support. He also found it helpful to have informal conversations with NBA players that had also suffered an Achilles injury.
“To say I was consistent with contact, no. I wanted to go and learn this process on my own and figure it out on my own,” Cousins said. “Every guy is different and every guy handles differently. The mindset is different. I know myself and how to get through situations.”
(SGVN/Staff Photo Keith Birmingham/SXSports) Sifting through the different journeys
All of the players that Cousins consulted navigated their own Achilles injury with varying success and challenges.
After injuring his left Achilles toward the end of the 2012-13 season, a 35-year-old Bryant returned eight months later, played …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Sports