DeMarcus Cousins started his career with the Sacramento Kings and became one of the NBA's most dominant (and volatile) big men during his time there.
However, due to clashes with coaches and management, he finally forced his way out of Sacramento at the trade deadline last season.
Now a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, Cousins returned to his old stomping grounds on Thursday night and had a huge game in the Pelicans' 114-106 victory.
It was before the game, though, when the emotions were high for Cousins, as a video tribute was played and fans gave him a standing ovation. An emotional Cousins thanked the fans after the game (via ESPN.com):
"It was beautiful, man," Cousins said of the ovation he received. "A lot of people that know me knew I was nervous as hell. I'm thankful to have the years that I had in this city. The city and the fans were great to me, and I loved my time here. At the end of the day, it was nothing but love."
Cousins may have been nervous, but he seemed calm on the court, scoring 41 points, grabbing 23 rebounds and dishing out six assists in his team's win.
Cousins told NBA.com after the game that once the contest started, he was able to set his emotions aside for 48 minutes of dominance:
"I tried to tune everything out, honestly," Cousins told reporters after the game. "I was good after the jump ball. Before that, I just wanted to hurry up and get the process over."
With the win, the Pelicans improved to 2-3, while the Kings fell to 1-4. Sacramento likely won't factor into the Western Conference playoff picture this year, but the Pelicans hope to contend for a spot.
New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry knows Cousins will be a big part of his team's success, but added that it was nice to see him honored by his former team on Thursday night (via ESPN.com):
"These people love him here. You seen the standing ovation, and the response that he got when they put him on the Jumbotron. I think he really appreciates it," Gentry said. "He had a relationship here that will last a lifetime."
Moving forward, Anthony Davis and Cousins form one of the best front-court tandems in the NBA (if not in NBA history), so those two will have to play well together if the Pelicans are going to make it to the postseason after missing out last year. Based on Thursday night's results, though, that could certainly happen.