LOS ANGELES • Fans of the Golden State Warriors had waited four months to see the ultimate "Super-team" on court.
For DeMarcus Cousins, the wait had been even longer, after spending a year on the sidelines since tearing his Achilles tendon while at the New Orleans Pelicans.
Coach Steve Kerr promised he would align all his All-Stars and the centre did not disappoint on his highly anticipated debut, displaying all the hallmarks of a classic Cousins performance - from a monster dunk to running the floor and, of course, foul trouble.
Joking after he fouled out of their 112-94 win at the Los Angeles Clippers after 15 minutes of game time, he told CBS Sports: "(The referee) was hating on me tonight, bro. I need to get used to this new NBA."
Yet it is not the 28-year-old who needs time to get up to speed, but rather the other National Basketball Association contenders; they have to deal with the new normal - that the Warriors' perimeter threats are even more pronounced.
His 48 per cent shooting from the post in 2017-18 season was the fifth-best mark among players with at least 200 post possessions and "Boogie" did not miss a step for his new team, going five-of-11 from the field, including three-of-four from beyond the arc for 14 points.
The Warriors led the Clippers a merry dance, inflicting their fifth straight loss, with Stephen Curry on 28 points and Kevin Durant adding 24 to surpass NBA great Clyde Drexler to sit 31st on the all-time scoring list.
But the night was all about Cousins and the Warriors were delighted for him, with Curry and Klay Thompson pouring water over his head in the post-game celebrations.
Admitting it was "one of the best days of my life", he told reporters: "Felt like a kid on Christmas. It's been a long journey.
"It felt great to be out there. A lot of ups and downs, a lot of dark days, a lot of good days, but this is where my love and passion is, so I'm just happy to be out here on the floor and out here with my teammates."
The visiting supporters at the Staples Centre also appreciated the hustle he brought, giving him a standing ovation when he fouled out with six fouls and rising to their feet when he announced his return by throwing down for the two-time defending champions' first points of the game.
Laughing off the reception, Cousins said: "Man, probably the fakest love I've received in my life. I'm just going to keep it a million.
"I'm just glad to know that I can still dunk. It felt good. I never in a million years thought that would be my first basket playing ball again."
"I honestly don't see how guys like Steph and Klay do it on the daily, where there are cameras around them all day. I don't like it, at all. So hopefully, this is the last day of this."
But if Cousins is expecting the focus to shift after he gets used to the team, Durant is not, with his ability to "keep people on us at the three-point line". The rest of the league have been duly warned.
REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST