DeMarcus Cousins is about to play in his third straight All-Star game, but he'll emerge from the break with an albatross hanging around his neck.
The mercurial Sacramento Kings center has accumulated 17 technical fouls on the season, having already served a one-game suspension and sitting one technical shy of earning another.
Though in the past Cousins has blamed NBA officials for treating him unfairly and judging him on reputation alone, he struck a more self-reflective tone when discussing his present predicament with Justin Termine and Eddie Johnson on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Thursday.
"It's tough, but I can't blame anybody but myself," Cousins said. "It's a situation that I put myself in early in my career. I'm going out of my way to try change this reputation. It's not gonna happen overnight, you've got some people that don't wanna let go, but it is what it is. So, just remain positive, keep pushing forward, and just do what's best for the team."
Cousins' coach and teammates have called on him to better control his emotions for the good of the team. He appears ready to try and tackle that challenge, though he's unsure whether he'll ever be given the benefit of the doubt, or whether he'll always be a brat in the eyes of some officials.
"You never know," he said. "All I can do is keep moving forward."
Cousins also bristles at the perception that he doesn't care about winning.
"It's hard because I know what my intentions are," he said. "I know myself, and I know what I want on a daily basis. It's tough to hear, when people think they know what it is and they really don't."
It's easy to glom onto that perception, given that in six-plus seasons, Cousins has yet to play on a team that's won more than 33 games. But the 26-year-old, who plans on signing a mega-extension this summer to stay with a dysfunctional Kings franchise long term, insists the way he's perceived outside the locker room doesn't matter to him.
"I don't care," he said. "Long as my guys in the locker room understand me and know where I stand, that's all that matters."