Lucky we’re alive: What exactly happened between Boogie Cousins and Zach Randolph on Wednesday

It has been a tough season of basketball for Boogie Cousins, that much we know. Dealing with harmful viruses the past four months — the kind that plagues your body, and whatever the devilish strand is that continuously plagues the front offices in Sacramento — has predictably shortened Cousins’ already lacking sense of humor. I can’t blame the guy for being agitated. What do you know about God’s plan? More like what do you know about being an employee of the Kings?

The All-Star break has come and gone and, in a perfect world, the playoffs would be right around the corner. Alas, the regular season carries on for another two months. We’ll learn more about the best teams in each conference, teams will get a chance to assimilate their shiny new toys, and the individual races for home court advantage in round one will keep us invested until mid-April. We, the fans, will be okay.

You know who is most definitely NOT okay? Boogie. Because the next seven or eight weeks will be a daily reminder that he is not going to make the playoffs again — partly because the team nose-dived during Cousins’ virus-induced absence. But Sacramento’s shameful firing of Mike Malone, thus handing the reigns to Ty Corbin for an extended period of time, is what actually did the Kings in. March and April are going to be Blended-level horrible in Sacramento. But as Cousins told to Bill Simmons on the B.S. Report this month, the last two months can be a head start for George Karl and the Kings, a chance to take some positive momentum into 2015-16. Oh, and Boogie wants to roast every big man in the league in the meantime.

As Cousins also told Simmons, the Memphis Grizzlies are his most challenging matchup, in large part because of the Zach Randolph/Marc Gasol frontline that leaves bruises on opponents everywhere they go. The brothers-from-another-mother that lead Grit-N-Grind are, by definition, a handful. In particular, Randolph plays basketball like a father wrestling against his young sons — he could tell his nemesis every move he’ll make (I’m going left, I’m going left, I’m going left) and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.

Boogie is a monster, perhaps the NBA’s greatest physical specimen at center since Shaq; he’s the only player in the league that opponents just bounce off of like they aren’t even there. But if Boogie is a freak, Randolph is his opposite — a really big, strong dude who gets very pissed off when someone tells him he isn’t going to get what he wants (mostly shooting with his left hand).

Let’s go back to Wednesday night. It’s a cold February night in Sacramento. Boogie is trapped in the delirium of a nightmare season. Randolph is playing every night like the Larry O’Brien trophy is on the table. It’s really not a surprise that tempers flared and angry words were exchanged.

We’re just lucky that we all made it out alive.

Before we get to the main event, there was plenty of lead-up to the third quarter fireworks. Let’s go round by round.

Roaming down the floor like their own separate packs of Wildebeest, there is something magnetic about the rivalry between Boogie and Z-Bo, like they cannot help but to crash into each other. They are bumper cars with legs. Boogie scores on the play; Randolph is not pleased about that.

Round One goes to Boogie. Let’s see what Randolph cooks up for Round Two. (Hint: It involves apologetically driving to HIS LEFT.)

It’s bad enough that he missed the shot, but with the referee dismissing the contact Boogie unearthed onto him AND giving Sacramento the ball, Randolph decided they were DEFINITELY GOING THERE before all was said and done in Sac-Town. Check Randolph’s face at 0:24.

After giving up Rounds One and Two to Boogie, there was nothing Randolph wouldn’t do for a win — even falling down like someone removed his legs from his body. Note: This was Cousins’ first foul of the game. The first of many. How does the commander and chief of Boogie Wonderland feel about this call?

Round Four is where things elevate from normal interesting to OH MY GOD ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN territory.

First of all, Boogie is raked by Tony Allen on his shot attempt. (Not the first or last time that happened Wednesday night; Allen was the perfect partner-in-crime agitator for Randolph.) Then, on what appears to be a 50-50 ball, Randolph stumbles out of play, which lands Cousins his second personal foul of the game. Cousins thought he was going to end up with a wide-open lay-up. Now, in this meta-physical space, Randolph just knotted things up at two rounds a piece. Minutes later…

… and suddenly he is forced to sit down the remainder of the first half with three personal fouls. Boogie, how does that make you feel?

Exactly. (Kudos, by the way, to George Karl for earning the obligatory “My player is pissed off so let me get T-ed up” technical foul. It might be completely obvious, but it’s what you have to do. That’s how you earn your franchise big man’s trust.)

With Boogie back on the floor for the second half, he wastes no time forcing contact down low, this time being swarmed by Gasol. No call? No call. The second half begins accordingly.

Perhaps my favorite pre-Main Event battle, Randolph arm-extended shoves Boogie out of his way (from driving left). Boogie throws both hands in the air, mid play, before correctly guessing Randolph was looking to, you know, drive left, and steals the ball. Advantage Boogie. (Also, in case you were wondering about the actual score of the game, the Kings are up double-digits right now. But yo, who cares, really?)

This is how I see it. There’s a lot of contact, per usual. The ball comes through the net and Randolph, fresh off a successful lefty drive, was hoping to catch the ball and hand it to the referee — an abbreviated touchdown celebration, if you will. Boogie was having none of that; he grabs the basketball like it’s a bowling ball out from Randolph’s hands and swiftly tosses it down a different lane for a strike. Fetch, doggy, fetch, perhaps Boogie added. This was all Randolph needed to become Chris Rock in leather, mouthing off loud and proud to anybody within shouting distance.

There was an element of Listen, young man, you have not yet arrived to Randolph’s antics, to which he mostly has a point. Memphis is the superior team, the franchise that has played meaningful basketball each of the past four years. It is Sacramento that is the laughing stock of the NBA, and Cousins who may just be the league’s most polarizing player. Randolph cannot afford to be made to look ridiculous; right or wrong, Cousins is supposed to respect his elders. Randolph would be more than happy to teach him a lesson… right?

But here’s why I give Cousins the victory in this war of the monsters. While Randolph was storming all over the hardwood like some punk preteen stole his Halloween candy, what was Boogie doing? He was just chilling. Why? Because he was not interested in fighting Randolph. If he was, nobody would be able to convince Boogie otherwise, believe that. I’m not 100 percent certain Boogie would win in a fight against Randolph, but let’s just say I don’t feel badly about his chances either.

What was Randolph doing? Employing some classic “HOLD ME BACK” tactics: aimlessly walking around; finding teammates to get in-between he and Cousins; and backing away immediately after making the initial shove. Randolph is one of my favorite basketball players ever, don’t get me twisted. But on Wednesday night, as close to the line as he got, there was no way he was going to let the conflict with Boogie get to blows. And for that — in a game that Sacramento comfortably won despite ruthless foul trouble against Cousins — Randolph drops the main event.

The real winners, though: you and me. Because I’m not sure Planet Earth would be able to handle the volcanic eruption that would have occurred from a Boogie vs. Z-Bo death match.

In the aftermath of the the fiery exchange, Randolph was able to get out most of his frustrations. He elbowed Cousins twice in the face later in the period. (And was correctly whistled for an offensive foul.)

And with Boogie on the bench, Z-Bo just about ran over former teammate Rudy Gay with that 18-wheeler lower body of his. (Gay’s reaction to learning he picked up the foul on the play is priceless.)

Before the end of the game, Boogie and Z-Bo got one more battle in, which Cousins claimed purely for good measure.

Again, we are the lucky ones. That these titans spared our planet from absolute destruction is a gift.

And I’d give anything for a transcript of this conversation.




About Joe Mags

The next Sherlock Holmes just as soon as someone points me to my train and asks how I'm feeling. I highly recommend following me @thatjoemags, and you can read my work on Tumblr ( I am the Senior NBA Writer at Crossover Chronicles. I'm also a contributor for The Comeback, Awful Announcing and USA Today Sports Weekly.