The NBA players' association is continuing its appeal on behalf of Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins even after he has served his suspension.
The league suspended Cousins two games for confronting San Antonio announcer Sean Elliott in a "hostile manner." The exchange followed the Spurs' 97-86 victory in Sacramento on Friday night.
Cousins sat out losses at the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday and at home against Portland on Tuesday. He can't get the games back but is hoping to recoup his pay for each game missed. He lost about $70,500 of his $3.9 million salary.
"Based on the accounts we have heard to date of the incident, we believe that a two-game suspension is excessive and unwarranted," NBA players' association executive director Billy Hunter said in a statement Wednesday. "We recognize the Commissioner's desire to discourage confrontations between players and members of the media, but he needs to exercise more subtlety and discretion in ascertaining and examining the specific facts and circumstances before handing down such heavy-handed discipline."
In a statement through his agent, John Greig, Cousins expressed remorse for his role in the incident.
"Despite believing the penalty (is) unwarranted, I want to apologize to the Sacramento Kings, our fans and especially to my coaches and teammates for this distraction of our goals," Cousins said. "As a leader of the team, I have to make the best decisions so my teammates can count on me. I am committed to continued growth and being the best player I can be."
Cousins' behavior has been well documented going back to high school and his one season at Kentucky.
He has mixed in dramatic and astonishing plays with outbursts against players, coaches, trainers and referees. Cousins clashed often last season with Kings coach Paul Westphal, who was fired after a 2-5 start, which also came after he released a statement criticizing Cousins' commitment to the team and excusing him for a game.
After Cousins' workout over the summer in Las Vegas with the U.S. select team, which helped Team USA prepare for the London Olympics, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Cousins "has some growing up to do." Cousins has since said he was just playing hard and that rubbed some the wrong way.
The 22-year-old Cousins is averaging 17.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season. Sacramento is 2-6, the worst record in the Western Conference.
Cousins, drafted fifth overall in 2010, will return when the Kings host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP