Then the newly acquired New Orleans Pelicans center went out and proved it really was.
Playing with equal measures of passion and poise, Cousins scored a game-high 37 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in his first game against the Kings to lead the Pelicans to a 117-89 victory Friday night at the Smoothie King Center.
"My biggest fear was I didn't want to come in and make it about me," said Cousins, who played 6 1/2 seasons and made three All-Star teams with Sacramento before being traded to New Orleans during the All-Star break. "My biggest fear was doing that and coming out with a loss. That would've been terrible. I was just happy we came out with the right approach. We came out with a lot of energy."
In winning for the eighth time in the last 11 games -- and notching their sixth consecutive home victory -- the Pelicans (33-43) overwhelmed the Kings (29-47) in the paint (60-38), had a season-high 17 steals and turned 22 Sacramento turnovers into 36 points.
Cousins teamed with forward Anthony Davis to do most of the damage. Davis scored 19 points and grabbed 12 boards. Davis said even though Cousins kept insisting the game wasn't about him, his teammates knew better.
"We were just trying to get him the ball," Davis said. "Of course, there's a lot of emotion and stuff going through his head. We wanted him to play well and get him going and, from there, play our style of basketball."
Cousins did it on the inside and the outside. He was 5 of 8 from 3-point range ¬ -- the third time in the last four games he has had at least five made threes -- and scored 18 fourth-quarter points as the Pelicans coasted to the victory.
Cousins showed a lot of emotion during and after the game. He frequently chatted on the court with his former teammates, especially his fellow bigs Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Willie Cauley-Stein.
At one point, he glanced over at the Sacramento bench and caught himself trying to communicate with his old coaching staff.
"It was very weird actually," Cousins said. "You practice against those guys every day, but to actually come out in a game setting against them is a very weird feeling. I'm so used to those guys being on my side. I even caught myself looking over at (coach Dave Joerger)."
Joerger said the Pelicans manhandled his team defensively.
"They got all over us defensively and they were physical and we struggled to score," he said. "They just overmatched us physically getting into the paint. DeMarcus had a terrific game and he's terrific player, and Anthony had a terrific game."
The Kings (29-47) were led by guard Ben McLemore, who had 15 points off the bench.
Gentry said the Pelicans planned to feed Cousins early and often.
"Of course, we want him to play well," Gentry said. "I'm not a guy that's going to say this is just another game. No, I wanted him to play well against them, and he did everything we asked him to do."
Cousins said he is thrilled to be in a special situation with Davis, where they can learn from and help each other.
"It's great," Cousins aid. "I think I'm in a special situation to be able to learn from my partner in crime and vice versa. I don't think there's a lot of guys that can actually do that. I think me and AD still have a lot of room to grow, but just to be able to grow together and learn from each other at the same time, I think that's a special combination."
NOTES: Since the blockbuster DeMarcus Cousins trade, the Pelicans are 10-9 and the Kings are 5-14. ... Cousins tweaked his right Achilles late in the game but said he is OK. ... The Pelicans announced they would field their own developmental team in the NBA Gatorade League, beginning in the 2018-19 season. They are soliciting bids from 11 cities along the Gulf Coast, including seven in Louisiana, two in Mississippi and one each in Alabama and Florida. "I think it's really important for all the teams in the league to have (their) own D-League team and be able to run it, basically having them run the same offense," said New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry. "When I was at Golden State that was one of the biggest advantages I think we had. We had a coach and players, in proximity to us and we could have a guy and send him down and bring him back in a day." ... Kings coach Dave Joerger said he is happy with the three guards -- Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway -- the Kings acquired in the Cousins deal. "They work hard and we'll see what happens down the line in the next two years for their development," Joerger said.