If you missed it yesterday, Bucks center Larry Sanders underwent surgery to repair ligament damage in his right thumb. Sanders injured his thumb in an off-court altercation last Saturday night and is expected to miss six weeks recovering from the surgery. Earlier this week, Sanders released the following statement apologizing for his involvement in the altercation.
“I want to start by saying I put myself in a bad situation over the weekend, I didn’t make the best decisions down the stretch, but I would like to apologize to my fans here, Sen. Kohl, who I will talk to directly. I’ve talked to the team and apologized to them, just for shedding a negative light on our team and our organization. It’s not what we’re about at all; it’s not who we are. It’s not what we stand for. I offer my apologies to everyone, especially the fans. I know they put a lot on me and they count on me a lot. For everyone I let down, I’m going to get better, going to be better. I’m going to get better at this, on and off the court. I’m going to come back better. I just thank everyone for their concerns and being patient with me.”
$44 million is a lot of money. The Bucks took an enormous risk by giving that kind of contract to Larry Sanders this past summer, who still had (and still has, apparently) looming maturity issues. Not only did owner Herb Kohl dish out this tremendous sum to Sanders, but he has also set up Sanders with the opportunity to become a “face of the franchise” for the Bucks.
The Bucks (2-3) are a new team who have thus far struggled to find consistency. Sanders himself has played far below expectations, averaging just 2.7 points on 25% shooting from the field while only adding 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks a game in the three contests he’s appeared in this season. The offensive post game Larry claimed to have worked on so diligently this past summer has not yet been noticeable. Well, it has been noticeable, in the fact that Larry has looked considerably worse on offense compared to last season.
Larry, who has been vocal about his desires for a larger leadership role, should have claimed responsibility for the teams woes and taken steps to help take the Bucks out of this slump. Instead, Larry went out, got in a fight, and injured himself, just about the last thing the banged up Bucks needed.
Now, the Bucks will have to go six weeks without their most important player. Considering the injuries already suffered by Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Knight, Sanders missing six weeks could be detrimental to the early chemistry building process of this new Bucks team.
Larry dropped the ball on this one (no, that’s not a reference to the hundreds of passes Sanders dropped his rookie year…. okay, maybe it is), plain and simple. It’s up to him to regain the trust from his teammates, fans and coaches.
Has Larry Sanders completely fumbled his opportunity to step in to the “face of the franchise” roll for the Bucks? Probably not. But he certainly is testing the trust of Senator Kohl and the Bucks organization with his on and off-court demeanor.
Larry owes Bucks fans and the franchise more than just an apology. When he returns from injury Sanders better get to playing at a higher level on the court as well as staying out of trouble. Otherwise, he may begin losing the love from Bucks fans just as quickly as he earned it last season.
It’s time to grow up and step up, Mr. Sanders.