DeMarcus Cousins Takes Issue With Tees, Team Pulls Monkey Shirts

DeMarcus Cousins was angry about the monkey shirts placed on fans’ chairs by the Sacramento Kings. The NBA star felt the shirts handed out on the first day of Black History Month were racist. Before pulling the monkey shirts, team officials maintained the “Year of the Monkey” promotion was an attempt at global inclusion.

On Monday evening, DeMarcus Cousins spotted the monkey shirts before a Milwaukee Bucks game at Sleep Train Arena, MSN reports. Cousins did not participate in the game because he has a sprained ankle.

The Year of the Monkey shirts were reportedly designed and printed as part of an NBA league recognition of the Chinese New Year. On the same night, both players and coaches wore warm-up shirts that boasted a Black History Month emblem.

Approximately 17,000 monkey shirts had already been draped on the back of seats as part of the fan giveaway when Cousins, 21, began urging the Sacramento Kings to pick up the Year of the Monkey shirts and box them up, the New York Daily News reports.

Before the Sacramento Kings game against the Milwaukee Bucks began, the star center reportedly engaged former star and current game announcer, Marques Johnson, in a discussion about the monkey shirts. Cousins, an all-star player, has averaged 27.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game this basketball season, United Press International reports.

“I walk into the building and DeMarcus Cousins calls me over to an animated discussion he’s having with Kings operations people,” Johnson wrote in a Facebook post about the pre-game drama. “He ask me, ‘Olskool, what you think about this T Shirt?’ Told him a little insensitive on 1st day of Black History Month. They pulled the shirts…”

The DeMarcus Cousins monkey shirts story quickly went viral on social media. Some wholeheartedly agree with the Sacramento Kings’ players angst and think the fan freebies were extremely insensitive to African Americans and the start of Black History Month. Others feel the entire incident was an example of political correctness run amok and a simple Chinese New Year celebration event was blown entirely out of proportion.

Sacramento Kings President Chris Granger discussed the monkey shirts controversy with the Sacramento Bee.

“We all need a lesson in sensitivity. In an effort to celebrate Chinese New Year, we had some concerns about the T-shirt giveaway, so we pulled them all before the doors opened. Certainly we don’t want to offend anybody, and we acted as soon as we heard the concern.”

The professional basketball team continued on with the rest of its Lunar New Year celebration activities on game night.

DeMarcus comes from a family of educators in Mobile, Alabama, the Sporting News reports. He was an avid football fan and player during his younger years. He began growing by leaps and bounds in middle school and was constantly approached about playing basketball, but the sport did not entice him at the time. When he was in the seventh grade, Cousins sat at the scorer’s table and kept book for the basketball team and only casually played the sport on the playground with friends.

He was six-foot-six-inches tall in the eighth grade when approached by Birmingham Storm coach Danny Pritchett. He learned the finer points of the sport while playing AAU ball under Pritchett.

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[Photo by Brandon Dill/AP]