If you haven’t read it already, check out James Herbert’s interview with Milwaukee Bucks’ new cult hero Larry Sanders. Despite it being a must-read because it’s simply Bucks news, it gives us a little bit deeper insight into what has made up the big man Bucks fans have all come to love this season. There’s a lot of captivating stuff in the piece, and I’ve chosen to highlight a few that are particularly awesome.
On if this is the season he envisioned himself having:
“I don’t know, I always see progress in myself and I want to see more progress. I think I can become a lot better than I am right now. To me, I feel like maybe a little bit over halfway, maybe halfway there. Reaching my potential is going to take a lot more work and I’m prepared for that. I’m just going to keep working hard and we’ll see where I end up.”
Sanders believes he has only reached half of his potential. Let that sink in. The guy who is averaging 3.23 blocks/game, far and away the best in the league, think he’s only halfway to where he wants to be. If you extend his stats to a per 48 minute basis, then he leads the second best shot blocker by 2.08 blocks ON AVERAGE. He leads Serge Ibaka, who’s nickname has block in it by that margin. Sanders thinks he can better that. Yikes.
On whether he thinks there’s been a shift on how people talk about him:
“I think before it was a lot of ‘potential’ talk. Potential is dangerous. It’s a dangerous word. Coaches know that can either go nowhere or that can fulfill itself and I think now they see the progress, see me making progress toward reaching my potential. That’s exciting for them because that’s something that you want to see a player with potential do — ultimately, keep becoming better. That’s what I want to keep trying to do: keep becoming better and try to fill out that potential.”
It seems cliche, but we haven’t heard stuff like this from Sanders and have seen him back it up on the court. So, for now, we have no choice but to believe the guy.
On what he looks for when he watches himself on tape:
“When I look at myself, I look at everything. But if I’m looking at blocks I’m more so looking at the offensive player and how they’re attacking — whether they’re looking this way, away from the rim, leaning in — to see where the ball ends up for me to go get it. It’s natural, but I know I can become better.”
This is what you’d hope to hear from. He’s not just relying on physical ability as much any more. He’s now thinking about blocking and how to go about become more effective at it. It’s Bill Russell-esque the way Sanders is going about blocking. It’s phenomenal.
On the Bucks fans embracing him this season:
“I love Milwaukee. I feel like I’m their adopted child. I don’t mind that at all, I love it there, I love the fans. They show great support and we would love to see more. It’s increasing with our success, the city’s getting really excited. That’s something that’s good to see. It’s my third year there, it’s the first time we’ve actually seen the city really behind us like this. It’s a great feeling.”
On how people percieve him:
“It’s funny because I’ve got all these tattoos on my body, I’m a tall guy and I might be intimidating to some people. But I’m a firm believer in your inner — who you are on the inside, compared to who you are on the outside. I think judgment can be cast by anyone and this is what we do the most. We love to do it even though we shouldn’t. And I think when people see me sometimes, they may cast judgment and say ‘he may be a hothead’ or ‘he may be an angry guy’ but I’m not. I think it’s kind of funny.
I think it’s funny that we cast judgment and create a reality in our mind, situations that could be so far from the truth. I just want people to know that I’m really grounded. I’m a really humble guy. My values are the same as most people. I don’t find value in money. You can use it to obtain possessions but at the end of your life when you’re sitting in that rocking chair, if you’re looking at your family then you’re happy. You’re not looking at your bank account.
So my value is in people and experiences and relationships, love and my family. That’s where I find true value. And expression, the way we express ourselves, our creativity, things like that. Those are things we should really value. It’s not how much it’s worth, it’s how much effort you put into it and what is it worth to you. Not what you can sell it for. I just wish people would appreciate that more.”
Easily my favorite quote of the piece.
We’ve all wanted Sanders to become a foundation piece since he was first drafted, and this season he has made the right steps in becoming that. He’s saying all the right things, making the correct adjustments on and off the court, and is embracing his new found success all while keeping himself grounded yet hungry for more. At only $3 million next season with a qualifying offer of $4 million the year after, Sanders is proving to already be one of the league’s best values, and if the Bucks are serious about their future, keeping Sanders around has to be a key part of it.
Let’s hope that is one thing the fans and management can agree on.