Milwaukee Bucks: Larry Sanders reflects on his NBA departure

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 01: (Photo by Meg Oliphant/BIG3 via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 01: (Photo by Meg Oliphant/BIG3 via Getty Images) /

Larry Sanders’ time in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks came to an abrupt end back in 2015, but the former center continues to open up about his decision.

It’s been over five years since Larry Sanders‘ time with the Milwaukee Bucks came to an end and the former center originally opened up about his struggles with anxiety and depression.

Sanders briefly returned to the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016-17, and took part in the BIG3 in 2019, but that initial departure largely signaled the end of the former VCU Ram’s playing days.

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Still all these years later, there’s plenty about Sanders’ decision to walk away that has remained unspoken, but in an interview with CBS Local Chicago’s DJ Sixsmith on Monday, the now 31-year-old offered some additional detail and plenty of reflection on what brought him to leave the NBA at that time.

In a wide ranging conversation, Sanders spoke candidly about everything from his journey to the NBA, playing alongside a young Giannis Antetokounmpo, and his marijuana use.

On that last topic, Sanders again reiterated that it didn’t factor into the end of his playing career, in spite of the fact that he was clocking up violations of the league’s anti-drug program. Instead, Sanders highlighted how for him, given what he was dealing with at the time, marijuana represented an option he was much more comfortable with than many of the alternatives.

"“I had to take chances with my health and I knew there were risks involved. There are other risks bigger than a fine like reconstructing my brain chemistry by taking a pill. I understood the stigma. The NBA has an identity issue. The overall identity of the NBA is still trying to be controlled by the owners. Marijuana is not why I left the league. Honestly, I would have just been in the league smoking weed if I wanted to stay in the league,” said Sanders. “It did cast a negative shadow and it did make it a lot harder to just play basketball.”"

Sanders also discussed his love and appreciation for Bucks fans and the city of Milwaukee, in addition to shouting out a number of his teammates from his years with the organization:

"“I played with Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Drew Gooden, Keyon Dooling, Andrew Bogut and I had great teammates,” said Sanders. “The fans are dope in Milwaukee and they are longtime fans. It was good to be a part of that community and they really took me in. I felt like I was really a part of the Milwaukee community. There was always a Larry chant. It really felt like I was coming to see my people every day. It was good.”"

Following the end of his playing days, Sanders embraced his creative streak and suggested that he’s currently working on the next stages of bringing those projects to an audience.

"“I wrote a couple of TV shows, a movie and a book. I’m in the midst of trying to get that stuff off the ground. I just like being creative.”"

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There’ll always be a what if element for Bucks fans attached to how Sanders could have been a part of the young core that was forming at the time he left, but most importantly it’s great to see that Sanders seems in a better, more contented place now than he was back in 2015.